September 11, 2018 at 10:23 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Gay candidate Chris Pappas prevails in N.H. congressional primary

Chris Pappas won the congressional primary in New Hampshire. (Photo courtesy Pappas)

Gay candidate Chris Pappas prevailed Tuesday night in New Hampshire’s congressional primary, setting himself up for a chance to become the first out member of Congress from the Granite State.

Pappas claimed a plurality of 42.4 percent of the vote in the bid for the Democratic nomination to represent New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district in Congress. The Associated Press declared Pappas the winner of the primary at 9:05 pm.

Pappas, who has served as a member of New Hampshire’s executive council since 2013, is running to replace Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), who had announced she won’t seek election for another term in Congress.

Among Pappas’ competitors in in the crowded 11-way primary was Levi Sanders, the son of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The senator is popular in New Hampshire and beat Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire 2016 presidential primary.

In a Q&A with the Washington Blade in May, Pappas made opposition to President Trump a key component of his campaign message, saying he’d work to confront him as a member of Congress.

“The America we know is more kind, tolerant, and more decent than the America that Donald Trump is seeking to create,” Pappas said. “We have to stand up loudly and clearly and make it known that we are going to fight for the values that make this country great. We are going to fight to stem the tide of corruption in our political system, fight for folks who work hard in life to make their American Dream a reality, and start putting the people of this country first.”

Among the LGBT organizations that had endorsed Pappas were the Equality PAC, the political action committee for LGBT House members, and the LGBTQ Victory Fund. The Human Rights Campaign had yet to endorse Pappas at the time of primary.

Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement her organization believes Pappas will faithfully represent the voters of New Hampshire upon his election to Congress in November.

“Democratic primary voters are demanding authentic, values-driven leaders who prioritize policies over politics – and they found that leader in Chris,” Pappas said. “He was born and raised in the district, is a fierce advocate for fairness and equality, and will fight tirelessly to push forward policies that advance those principles. We need change in Washington, and a November victory for Chris is critical to securing a pro-equality majority in the next U.S. Congress.”

The winner of the Republican nomination for the congressional race was Eddie Edwards, a Navy veteran who was formerly chief of police for the town of South Hampton and director of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission Enforcement Division. Edwards was endorsed by the Trump administration and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Political observers have rated the New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district as leaning towards Democrats. With the Democratic nomination in hand and the expectation of a “blue” wave in November, Pappas’ chances of claiming victory are good, but not guaranteed.

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

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