June 12, 2012 at 10:22 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay Alexandria City Council candidate loses primary
Sean Holihan and Danny Barefoot, gay news, gay politics dc

Sean Holihan and his partner Danny Barefoot. (Courtesy of Sean Holihan for City Council)

Gay Alexandria City Council candidate Sean Holihan on Tuesday did not receive enough votes in the contentious Democratic primary to advance to the general election.

Unofficial election results show that former Councilman Timothy Lovain received 9.09 percent of the vote. Former Councilman Justin Wilson came in second with 8.75 percent of the vote. Gay incumbent Councilman Paul Smedberg came in fifth with 8.35 percent of the vote.

Smedberg and the other five winners will square off against three Republican candidates in November.

“The voters decided to go with an established group of great candidates who have had good bases of support and have lived in the community for a very long time,” Holihan told the Blade. “I’ll be happy to work with them in November.”

Holihan, who is NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s communications director, declared his candidacy in January. He stressed to the Blade earlier on Tuesday that he was optimistic going into the primary.

“It’s been a pretty intense primary and I hope we can turn out on top,” he said. “We ran a pretty good race.”

Holihan pointed to what he described as long-term development of the city as one of the issues that prompted him to run.

“D.C. is one of the top growing job areas in the country because government and health care are the two fastest growing job sectors, and we can’t build a wall around the city,” he said. “We need to figure out how to handle the need for more housing as well as grow our commercial tax base in order to pay for all the things we need like better transit, schools as well as our infrastructure like sewer systems.”

Holihan, who chairs the Equality Virginia Political Action Committee, criticized incumbent Republican Councilman Frank Fannon last month for suggesting that marriage rights for same-sex couples is a “divisive issue.” Mayor William Euille is among the more than 200 mayors from across the country who have joined Freedom to Marry’s “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” campaign.

Holihan added that the gay Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland’s failed nomination as a General District Court judge is among the issues about which voters have spoken with him.

“When I go knocking on doors people often bring up Richmond as far as [Attorney General] Ken Cuccinelli and ultrasound [bill] stuff,” he said. “During that whole week with Tracy Thorne-Begland, that came up numerous times; [they were] just kind of shaking their heads in disbelief that they didn’t think Richmond couldn’t get any worse. And of course they managed to find a way to do that.”

Holihan also responded to a Washington Post article on Monday that reported his partner, Danny Barefoot, donated $3,000 to a PAC that attacked fellow Democratic Council candidate Boyd Walker.

“We’ve run a really progressive race and a positive tone,” he said. “Danny is a campaign professional. He’s a consultant. We are two separate people. We live in the same house. We’ve worked together on many things, but he’s a separate person. We have separate bank accounts so what he does in his own professional manner is not something that he’s ever had to ask my permission for.”

Holihan said he has no plans to run for office again.


Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • Holihan recently moved to Alexandria and worked hard to earn the respect of other transplants and even old-timers. He earned numerous endorsements. His sexual orientation was a non-issue, and he would have been the second gay councilman in Alexandria (Paul Smedberg is already serving). Sean Holihan was the new darling of Alexandria politics, and there was even talk that he could be the next mayor. That ended abruptly with the negative PAC ad that Holihan’s partner funded behind his back. Voters were angered and tripped over each other running away from him. It’s a shame that a promising young gay Democratic fell victim to the same dirty tricks we condemn Republicans for.

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