Friday, March 7, 2014
When Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud recently announced that he was gay, the six-term congressman said that he didn't want to make his sexuality a campaign issue. What he didn't say, but was largely assumed by political observers, is that his sexuality could be used to garner campaign donations.
And so it is.
The fundraiser invitation above was sent to Michaud's supporters and invites them to help elect the "first openly gay governor in America." The event is set to be hosted at the home of Robert Raben, a D.C. lobbyist and former staffer for former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. Raben was also dubbed President Obama's "gay rights adviser" and his firm has represented the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT group that has helped advance and finance same-sex marriage ballot initiatives in states, including Maine.
Also on the host list is U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Col., who was mentioned in the State House Notebook this week as a potential donor to Michaud, not only because he is gay, but because he is among four wealthy individuals in Colorado that have financed progressive causes. Polis was named the seventh wealthiest member of Congress in 2012.
That Michaud's campaign would host this fundraiser in Washington seems to make some logistical and strategic sense. Not only are most of the hosts located there, some observers believe that the congressman would be wise not to allow his sexuality to define his candidacy in Maine.
PPH columnist Bill Nemitz raised that theory with Matt McTighe when Michaud came out as gay:
"From here on, Michaud finds himself walking a tightrope between the gubernatorial candidate who happens to be gay and The Gay Gubernatorial Candidate. Lean too far – or, more likely, get pulled too far – toward the latter and Mike the longtime mill worker risks becoming Mike the adopted figurehead of the national gay-rights movement.
McTighe puts the chances of that happening somewhere between nil and you’ve got to be kidding.
'I can tell you right now – and I’ve known him for awhile – you’d have a hard time turning Mike into anything other than who he is,' said McTighe. 'He’s going to be exactly the same – no matter what.'Tweet
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.