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Offbeat Six gay candidates running in Connecticut — as Republicans

22:55  14 september  2018
22:55  14 september  2018 Source:   nbcnews.com

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In Connecticut , six gay people are running as Republicans for seats in the state’s General Assembly, underscoring the state’s reputation Most of the gay Republican candidates come from the northern and eastern parts of Connecticut — traditionally conservative areas — including John

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John Scott, a Republican candidate for the Connecticut General Assembly's 40th District, talks to constituents.John Scott, a Republican candidate for the Connecticut General Assembly's 40th District, talks to constituents.© Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC John Scott, a Republican candidate for the Connecticut General Assembly's 40th District, talks to constituents.John Scott, a Republican candidate for the Connecticut General Assembly's 40th District, talks to constituents.

A record number of openly LGBTQ candidates are seeking office across the country this election cycle. The vast majority of these political hopefuls are running as Democrats, but there's one state that's bucking the trend.

In tiny Connecticut, six gay people are running as Republicans for seats in the state's General Assembly, underscoring the state's reputation for producing a "different breed" of Republican. In contrast, there are only two known gay Democrats running for office in the state.

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The vast majority of LGBTQ candidates run as Democrats, but political hopefuls are bucking the trend in Connecticut this election cycle. There were a record 430 lesbian, gay , bisexual and transgender candidates this year running for office at every level of government, almost entirely on the

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The six GOP candidates — five men and one woman — are challenging LGBTQ political trends. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center report, 82 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual registered voters identified with or leaned toward the Democratic party, up from 79 percent in 2013. And an NBC News exit poll conducted during the 2016 president election found 78 percent of LGBTQ voters cast their ballot for Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, while just 14 percent voted for Republican Donald Trump — approximately half the percentage that voted for John McCain in 2008.

Most of the gay Republican candidates come from the northern and eastern parts of Connecticut — traditionally conservative areas — including 48-year-old John Scott of Mystic, who 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.

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The number of lesbian, gay , bisexual and transgender candidates running for office this year is higher than ever. But there is a partisan split among the Six of the 20 L.G.B.T. Republicans who ran for office this year were in Connecticut . “They don’t want same-sex marriage or gay rights or anything

Across the country, LGBTQ candidates are running in record numbers, mostly as Democrats but some as Republicans . And in interviews with CNN, most candidates agreed that increased acceptance of the LGBTQ community has contributed to their ability run and said that visibility and

"Not once was I ever discriminated against in the Capitol; both parties were open and affirming," Scott said. During his previous two-year term, the Republican minority leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives, Themis Klarides, 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," Scott told NBC News. "We are fiscally conservative and socially liberal; we want a state that people can afford to live in and afford to stay in."

Scott's platform is focused on Connecticut's growing budget deficit and the "mass exodus" from the state. According to the Hartford Courant, 22,000 people moved out of the Nutmeg State between 2016 and 2017. That same year, Connecticut grew by less than 500 people, compounding its budget woes.

"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," Scott said. "Last year we lost over $600 million in tax revenue because people are leaving the state of Connecticut."

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Connecticut General Assembly Republican candidate for District 50 AJ Kerouac.Connecticut General Assembly Republican candidate for District 50 AJ Kerouac.© Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Connecticut General Assembly Republican candidate for District 50 AJ Kerouac.Connecticut General Assembly Republican candidate for District 50 AJ Kerouac.

AJ Kerouac, another openly gay Republican candidate, is running for the state's 50th District in the Connecticut House of Representatives. Kerouac, a distant relative of famous novelist and poet Jack Kerouac, hails from Brooklyn, Connecticut, a town in the state's far northeast known as the "quiet corner."

Kerouac, now 31, was just 15 when he founded his high school's Gay-Straight Alliance chapter. He attributed Connecticut's accepting culture, in part, with enabling him to do so.

Kerouac, who previously served on Brooklyn's Planning and Zoning Commission, said he decided to run for state office due to the "disastrous policies" coming out of Hartford, the state's capital.

"It's to the point where you look at something and you say, 'I know that I can do better than this,'" he told NBC News.

As for running as a Republican, Kerouac, like Scott, said politics are different in Connecticut.

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"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," he explained. "So we really can find that middle ground."

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.

Democrats currently have a slim majority in the Connecticut General Assembly, but Gregory T. Angelo, president of national conservative group Log Cabin Republicans, is optimistic that the LGBTQ Republican candidates will fare well in November — especially considering the current Democratic governor's unpopularity and the state's budget woes.

"The only thing that has kept Democrats in power in Connecticut in those circumstances is identity politics," Angelo said. "What the Connecticut GOP has brilliantly done in aggressively recruiting a full slate of gay Republican candidates is cutting Democrats off at their knees."

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Image: Connecticut State Capitol buildingConnecticut State Capitol building.© Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Image: Connecticut State Capitol buildingConnecticut State Capitol building.

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