|OK, it's official. Dick Chema will be running against Mike Turner in the November election to represent Ohio's 3rd district in Congress, having beat Charles Sanders handily in yesterday's special Democratic primary 5,263 (yes, one of those votes was mine) to 1,686, a 75% margin that might seem encouraging.
However, there are over 300,000 registered voters in the 3rd district, and less than 2% of them cared enough to vote for Chema. In May's primary election, Stephanie Studebaker for 12,363 votes, out of a total of 22,082 Democratic votes. Of course, more Democrats came out to vote in May since there was more to vote on. But in May's primary election, Mike Turner, running unopposed, got 35,511 Republican votes, or 62% of all the votes cast for 3rd district candidates. In November 2004, Turner beat Jane Mitakides 197,290 to 119,488, also by a margin of 62%.
So Chema's got quite a task in front of him over the next 7 weeks. Can he win just by convincing more Democrats to come out to vote? I doubt it. Can he get any Republicans to vote against Turner? It'd be quite surprising, wouldn't it?
By the way, why in God's name does the Montgomery County Board of Elections post election results in PDF format?
I'd like to say that I met my new congressman today, but that might be a bit optimistic. I did attend the grand opening of the campaign headquarters for Richard Chema, one of two Democrats running in the special primary to find a replacement candidate to oppose Mike Turner in the race for Ohio's third congressional district. I went because I wanted a chance to talk to Chema and also because his new office is in my old neighborhood.
I figured Chema would be okay on gay issues, but it's always nice to hear it directly and to see how comfortable a candidate is talking about it. I asked him where he stood on gay rights, and he said that he didn't believe "government belonged in the bedroom," an answer that's not entirely satisfying, so I followed up by asking whether he'd vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would add sexual orientation as a protected class, and he said he would, going on to talk a bit more about keeping government out of "the bedroom."
There are two problems with his immediately thinking of the bedroom when asked about gay rights. The first is that when the Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas, they effectively got the government out of our bedrooms, so while I'm glad Chema agrees with that, it's not really a current issue. What's more important is that being gay's not just about sex, no matter how much the radical right would like everyone to think that, and no matter how often even progressive candidates like Chema think that subconsciously. Being gay, at least openly gay, is also about finding housing and jobs and public accomodations, and being in gay relationships is about providing for and protecting one another. Keeping the government out of our bedrooms isn't enough, which I think even Chema knows, although he's not at all articulate about it.