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Jared Polis

The ‘Rainbow Wave’ is here with LGBT candidates earning election to Congress, governorship

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WASHINGTON (CIRCA) - On Tuesday night, Colorado voters made history by electing U.S. Rep. Jared Polis governor -- the country’s first openly gay man to win the seat.

“Tonight, right here in Colorado, we proved that no barrier should stand in the way of pursuing our dreams," Polis said in his acceptance speech. "We prove that we’re an inclusive state that values every contribution, regardless of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity."

According to CNN, Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who identifies as bisexual, is already the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected governor -- and she earned election to a second term Tuesday. Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey came out as gay before he stepped down from office in the early 2000s.

“A Rainbow Wave is on the horizon. If equality voters know their LGBTQ candidates and get out to the polls, it will touch down in state capitols throughout the nation.”
Annise Parker, Victory Fund president

Polis was one of several LGBTQ candidates who ran for governor this cycle, along with Brown in Oregon, Vermont Democrat Christine Hallquist and Texas Democrat Lupe Valdez.

There were more than 400 candidates identifying as LGBTQ on the ballot Tuesday, according to the advocacy group Victory Fund. The surge led to talks of a "Rainbow Wave."

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“I think candidates are running because they see it’s possible. They see the need for more LGBTQ candidates to get involved in the process," said Victory Fund president Annise Parker. "But they now see clear evidence that we can win at the very highest levels of government."

Parker was elected mayor of Houston in 2009, making her the first openly LGBTQ mayor of a major U.S. city.

“A Rainbow Wave is on the horizon," she said. "If equality voters know their LGBTQ candidates and get out to the polls, it will touch down in state capitols throughout the nation.”

According to the Victory Fund, at least eight LGBTQ Democratic candidates won seats in Congress.

“Tonight, right here in Colorado, we proved that no barrier should stand in the way of pursuing our dreams. We prove that we’re an inclusive state that values every contribution, regardless of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.

The Rainbow Wave has also been used to describe the record number of firsts in this election cycle, not limited to the LGBTQ community. CNN’s Van Jones described it as “the end of two years of one-party rule and the beginning of a new Democratic Party -- younger, browner, cooler, with more women, more veterans and the ability to contest and win races from the deep South to the Midwest.”

Among the first in the LGBTQ Rainbow Wave, Democrat Angie Craig defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Jason Lewis in Minnesota’s 2nd District, becoming the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected to Congress from the state. Kansas' Sharice Davids broke two ceilings, becoming one of the first Native American woman and first openly lesbian woman elected to Congress.

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According to The Kansas City Star, during her victory speech, Davis told supporters, “We have the opportunity to reset expectations about what people think when they think of Kansas … We know there are so many of us who welcome everyone, who see everyone and who know that everyone should have the opportunity to succeed.”

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