Gay-friendly statewide candidates flopped at the polls on Tuesday as voters also turned back three gay men hoping for seats in the Georgia General Assembly.
That means that the gay-friendliest candidate ever for Georgia governor – Democrat Jason Carter (top photo) – fell short, losing to Republican Gov. Nathan Deal 53% to 45%. Libertarian Andrew Hunt received 2% of the vote. And Michelle Nunn, the Democrat seeking Georgia's open U.S. Senate seat, lost to Republican David Perdue, 53% to 45%. Libertarian Amanda Swafford received 2%.
Voters also gave Republican Attorney General Sam Olens a second term, stalling the hopes of Democrat Greg Hecht. Olens has steadfastly defended the state's gay marriage ban, while Hecht said he would drop the defense if he won office.
Libertarian John Monds, who backed gay marriage and participated in Atlanta Pride in 2010 as a candidate for governor, lost his race for the Public Service Commission. Republican Doug Everett won a second term, taking 68% to Mond's 32%.
Nunn and Carter fumbled with LGBT issues during their campaigns, though they clarified their support for same-sex marriage after criticism mounted. But they limited their public appearances with gay supporters. Carter showed up to glad-hand with gay phone bankers and HRC President Chad Griffin last week but Nunn skipped the event, which was organized for her. Both Nunn and Carter didn't participate in the Atlanta Pride parade. Swafford, in the Senate race, took part in the parade and was outspoken in her support of gay marriage.
Also, toxic troll and Republican Jody Hice easily turned back Democrat Ken Dious for the District 10 seat in the U.S. House. Hice, a pastor, trolled gays and LGBT issues throughout his campaign and worried in his book about a secret gay plan to recruit and sodomize children. The district includes portions of metro Atlanta and Athens.
The upside to Tuesday? Three lesbians seeking a return to the state House – Reps. Karla Drenner, Simone Bell and Keisha Waites – are headed back for another term. All three incumbents did not face general election opponents.
But the curse against an openly gay man winning a seat in the General Assembly continued as three gay candidates lost. Bob Gibeling (second photo), a Democrat seeking the House District 54 post in Buckhead, lost to Republican Beth Beskin, 59% to 30%. Independent Bill Bozarth took 11%.
Gun-toting gay Timothy Swiney, a Democrat, lost to Republican P.K. Martin 67% to 33% in the Senate District 9 race. But Swiney did grab more than 18,000 votes in the conservative Gwinnett district. The race marked Swiney's fourth campaign in four years.
In Clayton County, gay Republican Christopher Deraney lost his race for the District 78 post to incumbent Democrat, state Rep. Demetrius Douglas, 75% to 25%. Deraney received 3,800 votes.
Also, Fulton Commission Chair John Eaves trounced his Republican opponent, Early Cooper, 63% to 37%. The gay-friendly Eaves supports gay marriage and spoke at a recent rally supporting marriage equality.
The poor election night for LGBT candidates and gay-friendly candidates left gay election strategists stumped.
“I think that we have to look at the LGBT demographics. What we have to do is determine who those LGBT people are and we’ve had a discussion about that. Because when you register to vote you aren’t asked [about sexual orientation], and we no longer have a gayborhood, people are everywhere,” said Jim Taflinger, chair of the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Georgia, while at an election night watch party at Amsterdam before the election results came in. “So we’re going to have to find a new way to identify and target LGBT people and that’s going to be our next challenge.”