November 28, 2018 at 12:30 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Chris Pappas backs Pelosi for House speaker

New Hampshire Congressman-elect Chris Pappas will be the first openly gay member of Congress from the Granite State. Pappas on Nov. 27, 2018, announced he backs Nancy Pelosi’s bid to once again become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. (Photo courtesy of Chris Pappas for Congress)

New Hampshire Congressman-elect Chris Pappas on Tuesday announced he supports Nancy Pelosi’s bid to once again become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Pappas spoke with Pelosi on Monday night. Pappas in a statement said “after careful consideration and discussion with many constituents and future colleagues in Congress, I have decided to support Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House.”

“I believe she is best equipped to lead the House at this point in our history,” he said. “My conversations with her convinced me she will lead with fairness and empower the incoming class to play a significant role in the work ahead. We must get down to doing the people’s business quickly, and we should start by reforming the way Washington works, lowering the cost of health care and creating an economy that allows everyone to succeed.”

Pappas earlier this month defeated Republican Eddie Edwards in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.). Pappas, who will represent New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District that includes Manchester, the state’s largest city, will be the first openly gay member of Congress from New Hampshire.

Pappas told the Washington Blade on Monday during a telephone interview that he was “still working through” whether he would back Pelosi.

“It appears as though she may be the only candidate running,” said Pappas.

Democrats regained control of the House in this month’s midterm elections. Pelosi is running unopposed ahead of House Democrats’ leadership vote on Wednesday.

“We were sent there to provide checks and balances, to stand up to the Trump administration and leaders of both parties,” Pappas told the Blade.

Pappas, 38, was born and raised in Manchester.

He was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2002. Pappas served two terms as treasurer of Hillsborough County, which includes Manchester. He was elected to the New Hampshire Executive Council, which advises the state’s governor, in 2012.

Pappas co-owns the Puritan Backroom, a popular Manchester restaurant. He told the Blade that his work “has prepared me well” for Congress.

‘LGBT community is being embraced not just on the coasts’

Two lesbian women — Minnesota Congresswoman-elect Angie Craig and Kansas Congresswoman-elect Sharice Davids — and California Congresswoman-elect Katie Hill, who is openly bisexual, were elected to Congress this month along with Pappas. Four openly gay men — U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) — won re-election.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who is the first openly lesbian woman elected to the U.S. Senate, defeated Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir. U.S. Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema will be the first openly bisexual person in the U.S. Senate after she defeated U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.

“We had a number of very compelling candidates running across the country,” Pappas told the Blade when asked about his election to Congress. “They’re from places like Minnesota and Kansas and New Hampshire and California. That shows the LGBT community is being embraced not just on the coasts, not just in big cities.”

Pappas also praised the two openly trans women — Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker — who were elected to the New Hampshire House this month.

“They were great candidates who ran strong campaigns,” said Pappas. “It’s wonderful that they were elected, that they broke down barriers in New Hampshire.”

New Hampshire Congressman-elect Chris Pappas works in his family’s restaurant in Manchester, N.H. (Photo courtesy of Chris Pappas for Congress)

Pappas to ‘reserve judgment’ on possible Trump impeachment

Pappas told the Blade that additional funding for treatment and recovery programs to address the country’s opioid crisis and reducing student loan debt are among his top legislative priorities once he is takes office in January. Pappas also said he supports a government reform bill that Democrats plan to introduce once they retake control of the House.

“It’s no accident the first bill out of the gate is going to be a government reform bill that restores our democracy,” said Pappas. “This is going to be a really important piece of legislation to put power back in the hands of the people.”

Pappas also said it is “critical” that special counsel Robert Mueller be allowed to finish his investigation into whether President Trump and/or any of his associates had any involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

“We need to allow him to finish his work and put everything out on the table,” Pappas told the Blade. “The facts are what’s driving the conversation.”

Pappas said he will “reserve judgment” on whether Trump should be impeached until Mueller releases his final report.

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

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