A financial services industry executive and business consultant who says he’s been openly gay for his entire adult life and married his husband in 2011 announced last month that he is running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in Delaware.
Eugene Truono, 59, who most recently served as chief compliance officer for PayPal, is running for the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Tom Carper, an LGBT rights supporter who first won election to the Senate in 2000.
Truono’s campaign received an unexpected boost last week when Republican businessman Chuck Boyce, who entered the Delaware Senate race one year ago and was expected to run against Truono in a Republican primary, suddenly dropped out of the race citing health issues.
Although other Republicans still have time to enter the race, as of this week Truono was the only GOP candidate running for Carper’s seat.
“This campaign isn’t about me being gay,” Truono told the Delaware News Journal on the day he announced his candidacy on Feb. 20. “It’s about bringing conservative principles to Washington from Delaware. It’s about pushing things like tax reform, jobs and health care reform – things I think people really care about,” the News Journal quoted him as saying.
Truono’s campaign website says that if elected to the Senate he “will fight for equality and justice,” but it doesn’t specifically mention LGBT rights or LGBT-related issues.
In response to an inquiry from the Washington Blade, Truono’s campaign manager, Steve McGuire, responded, among other things, to the questions of whether Truono supports allowing transgender people to serve in the military and whether he would become a co-sponsor of the long stalled LGBT rights bill known as the Equality Act.
“Mr. Truono believes that the LGBT community is currently protected under the enumerated rights of the Constitution,” McGuire said in an email message. “A clear example of this is the 2015 United States Supreme Court decision that relied on the Equal Protection Clause in the support of gay marriage,” he said.
“He believes the safeguards under the Constitution protect all individuals,” McGuire continued. “Therefore Mr. Truono would not become a cosponsor of the Equality Act as currently written and pending in the U.S. Senate.”
On the issue of transgender service in the military, McGuire said Truono “believes that all people who are otherwise qualified under the physical and mental requirements of selective service should be afforded the opportunity to serve our country.”
Added McGuire, “He also believes that those who enlist in the military should be subject to and follow all rules and regulations required by the Department of Defense.”
Asked if Truono plans to seek the endorsement of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which raises money for LGBT candidates for public office, and of Log Cabin Republicans, a national LGBT Republican group, McGuire said, “Mr. Truono would be honored to be endorsed by any organization that supports his core principles.”
Most political observers in Delaware consider Carper to be the strong favorite to win re-election in November in a state where the majority of voters are registered Democrats. Prior to winning election to the Senate in 2000, Carper served from 1983 to 1993 in the U.S. House of Representatives. He won election in 1992 as Delaware’s governor and served in that post until 2001.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, gave Carper a rating of 100 on LGBT rights issues, the group’s highest rating, in October 2016, its most recent rating period.
Mitch Crane, a gay Democratic activist from Lewes, Del., and the former Democratic Party chair in Sussex County, which includes Rehoboth Beach, said he believes the overwhelming majority of LGBT voters in the state will continue to support Carper.
“An openly gay Republican has as good a chance against Tom Carper as an openly straight Republican – none,” said Crane.
“I doubt Mr. Truono’s sexual orientation will be a factor,” Crane added. “Senator Carper certainly will not raise it and gay Sussex Countians will not vote for a gay candidate with whom they disagree on most every issue.”