John Scott is one of the openly gay candidates running as Republicans in Connecticut. | Photo: John Scott for State Rep/Facebook
2018 marks a record year for openly LGBTI candidates seeking office across the US.
Despite the vast majority are Democrats, there is one state which is bucking the trend.
Connecticut will see six gay candidates – five men and a woman – running as Republicans for seats in the state’s General Assembly.
In contrast, there are only two openly gay Democrats running for office in the state.
This might sound shocking as 82% of lesbian, gay and bisexual registered voters identified with or leaned toward the Democratic Party, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center report.
Meet the candidates
Most of the gay Republican candidates come from the northern and eastern parts of Connecticut. Those are traditionally the most conservative areas.
John Scott of Mystic served one previous term in the Connecticut General Assembly. Scott is again running for the state’s 40th District, which covers Groton and Mystic on the state’s eastern coast.
He said he has never experienced discrimination in the political milieu for his sexual orientation.
‘Not once was I ever discriminated against in the Capitol; both parties were open and affirming,’ Scott told NBC.
The Republican minority leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives, Themis Klarides, even announced Scott’s marriage on the floor, which led to a standing ovation.
‘I’ve always said that Connecticut Republicans are just a different animal, a different breed of Republicans,’ he also said.
‘We are fiscally conservative and socially liberal; we want a state that people can afford to live in and afford to stay in.’
He furthermore added: ‘In order for me to be successful, I need other small businesses to form and be successful in the state of Connecticut, and that’s what we need to change. Last year we lost over $600 million in tax revenue because people are leaving the state of Connecticut.’
A distant relative of novelist Jack Kerouac, A.J. Kerouac is another of the openly gay candidates. He is running for the state’s 50th District in the state House.
Being gay and Republican
When asked about running as a Republican and being gay, Kerouac explained politics are different in Connecticut.
‘The majority of our Democrats are a little more conservative than most Democrats in the country, and most of our Republicans are a little liberal than most of the Republicans in our country. So we really can find that middle ground,’ he said.
Connecticut’s other openly gay candidates include Ken Richards of Groton, Mary Fay of West Hartford, Robert Smedley of New Britain and Shaun Mastroianni of Stonington.