The presidential election is barely behind us and already talk is flying about 2002. Jim Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in Congress, is thinking about going back home to Arizona. He is not contemplating retirement but a run for governor.
"I've had some people suggest it, so I'm exploring whether it's doable or not," Kolbe told Roll Call. He had a strong opponent in 2000 but won reelection with 60 percent of the vote. Term limits prevent Gov. Jane Dee Hull from seeking a third term.
If he does decide to run, Kolbe would be the first credible openly gay candidate for governor in any state. After eight terms in congress, serving as governor would be the capstone of a political career for the 58-year-old legislator.
It also seems likely that Arizona would retain openly gay representation in its congressional delegation and perhaps add to it. The state gains two seats through reapportionment and state legislators Ken Cheuvront ( D ) and Steve May ( R ) , as well as Tempe Mayor Neil Guliano ( R ) have indicated interest in running for congress. All would be strong candidates.
Sen. John McCain has said that he is leaning toward not running for a fourth term in 2004. That would open up even more political opportunities in Arizona for the politically, for either that Senate seat or a cascade of other possible openings in a state that has a good farm team of credible openly gay candidates for higher office.
Donna Brazile seems to be considering a run for the D.C. City Council, according to a column in the Feb. 17 Washington Post. The African American woman was political director, then elevated to campaign manager of Al Gore's presidential bid.
Many assumed that she is a lesbian, in part because she served on the board of directors for the 2000 Millennium March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. But when Brazile became Gore's campaign manager, she dodged the question.
As former chief of staff to the District's congressional representative, Brazile, 40, is well known and well positioned to take on Democratic incumbents in either her Capitol Hill ward or running for a city-wide seat. But neither race would be easy. And while she has managed many political campaigns, Brazile has never been a candidate for office herself.
"Donna likes to run things," said Rick Rosendall, vice president of the local Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance. He has worked with her over the years and thinks she would make a good candidate, but he also noted that the incumbents have strong pro-gay records on the city council.
As for the question of sexual orientation, "I hold to the Barney Frank rule: People are entitled to privacy but not hypocrisy," said Rosendall. Two of the 13 council members are openly gay white males, so sexual orientation should not be an issue in an election in Washington, D.C., though how a candidate handles the question may be another matter.