October 31, 2020 at 8:46 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
In surprise poll, gay congressman trails Republican challenger
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Matt Mowers (Photos courtesy campaigns)

Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), one of seven openly gay members of the U.S. House, has been found in a surprise poll made public Thursday to be trailing his Republican challenger in the 2020 election.

The poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center between Oct. 24-31, found 50 percent of likely voters in New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district would back Matt Mowers, the Republican candidate, compared to the 48 percent who said they support Pappas. Two percent said they back Libertarian candidate Zachary Dumont and less than 1 percent were undecided.

The new poll comes out the week after Mowers laid into Pappas during a debate over having a relationship with a lobbyist for Amazon. Although Pappas initially denied the charge, he later conceded the relationship, but said he was dating an ex-lobbyist and received no gifts from him.

Congressional ethics experts told the Washington Blade members of Congress are required to make disclosure about their spouses, but not the people they date. Pappas’ campaign and the LGBTQ Victory Fund said the Mowers charge reeks of homophobia.

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center is a change from earlier polls, which showed Pappas held a double-digit lead over his opponent. Nonetheless, Real Clear Politics had already shifted the race to a “toss-up” even before the recent poll came out.

Pappas with 96 U.S. House colleagues on Friday introduced a resolution condemning U.S. Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito for a recent statement declaring on war on same-sex marriage, which may LGBTQ rights advocates fears may be in danger after the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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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