October 4, 2014 at 2:15 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Michelle Obama campaigns for gay gubernatorial candidate

Mike Michaud, Democratic Party, Maine, gay news, Washington Blade, Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama (right) made a campaign speech for gay gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

First lady Michelle Obama delivered a campaign speech Friday to energize supporters of a gay candidate who’s seeking to become to next governor of Maine, saying the upcoming mid-term elections will be pivotal for Democrats.

In remarks that lasted 20-minutes at the University of Maine in Bangor, Obama made the case for the candidacy Michael Michaud, who could be the first openly gay person in the United States elected to the office of governor.

Before the estimated 1,500 people in attendance, Obama drew on Michaud’s past as a state legislator, a member of Congress and mill worker, saying the candidate is supported across party lines and “doesn’t get caught up in partisanship or politics.”

“So whether it’s strengthening the economy, or expanding access to health care, or ensuring that women get equal pay for equal work, Mike will wake up, as he said, every day ready to fight for hard-working families,” Obama said.

At no time during her speech did Obama make a reference to Michaud’s sexual orientation or the history that could be made if he were elected to the governor’s office. A six-term member of Congress, Michaud came out as gay in the early stages of his gubernatorial campaign late last year.

Michaud, who’s in a tight race with incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage, reminded the crowd that little more than a month remains before Election Day and called on attendees to continue to support him until the end of his campaign, according to the Portland Press Herald.

“I need you to stand with me. I need you to stay with me,” Michaud was quoted as saying. “I am the only candidate in this race that can defeat Gov. LePage. We cannot afford history to repeat itself by allowing outside interest groups to divide us.”

According to a poll published late last month by the Portland Press Herald, Michaud leads LePage in the race among likely voters by just two points, 40-38. Independent candidate Eliot Cutler came in third with 12 percent support.

Obama also made the case generally for Democrats to go to the polls in the mid-term elections to ensure her husband can advance his agenda for the remainder of his administration.

“If you think people who work 40 or 50 hours a week shouldn’t have to live in poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth, if you think women should get equal pay for equal work, if you want your kids to have quality preschool and the college education they need to fulfill every last bit of their God-given potential, then you need to step up and get everyone you know out to vote this November,” Michelle Obama said. “That’s what’s at stake in these elections — the kind of country we want to leave for our kids and grandkids.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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