Let’s get one thing clear—the world is always a better place for the LGBT community when a Tea Party candidate goes down in an election, and goes down hard.
And that’s exactly what happened in Tuesday’s GOP primary for Georgia’s open Senate seat, as Phil Gingrey (he of the unhealthy obsession with gay teenagers) and Paul Broun (he of the equally disturbing “I like being a boy” and science being “lies straight from the pit of Hell,” which is like his “Stairway to Heaven” of batshit quotes), each nabbed only 10 percent of the vote.
But the Republican establishment is cheering the results, because their chances of beating Michelle Nunn and keeping the Senate seat are better with either David Perdue or Rep. Jack Kingston, who will face each other in a July runoff to decide who battles Nunn in November.
Kingston is a career politician, representing his Savannah-based district in Congress for over 20 years. And with his extremely conservative, anti-gay voting record and comments last year that underprivileged children on federal school lunch programs should sweep the floor of the cafeteria for their food, he’s not exactly a year-round neighbor of Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun in Crazytown, but he at least has a summer home there.
Perdue is a cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue and is the former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General who’s getting Mitt Romney comparisons due to his wealth, family connections and elitist attitude.
The risky—but relatively popular—move for progressives and LGBTs was to pull for a Tea Party win Tuesday night, hoping for Gingrey or Broun to turn off independent voters in the general election, therefore swinging votes Nunn’s way. Either of those two were also a virtual lock for at least one Hope Diamond of a screw-up—something along the lines of promising to declare missionary the official sexual position of Georgia, or riding a donkey into a Hispanic business owners association meeting.
But LGBTs pulling for Gingrey or Broun had to accept the risk of the “careful what you wish for” scenario, where with enough money, muzzles, and at least one significant Nunn gaffe, the Tea Party candidate slides into office and spends at least the next six years making life a living hell for Georgia’s gay community.
So at least that won’t happen, but now Nunn is going to face an establishment Republican with significant money and resources behind them who can draw independent voters.
The good news? David Perdue and Jack Kingston are about to spend the next two months beating the everloving hell out of each other in the longest runoff in state political history, thanks to an Obama Justice Department lawsuit in 2012 that said the three-week runoff disenfranchised military and overseas voters.
Nine weeks of attacks on each other instead of Nunn, nine weeks of money spent against each other instead of Nunn, nine weeks of running farther right to prove who is more conservative, opening up a chance for Nunn to pull more independents in the general.
So there are positives for the LGBT community to what happened Tuesday. But whoever wins on July 22, they’ll be sure to spend the next three-and-a-half months trying to tear Michelle Nunn apart.
Still remember, Nunn is obviously the better candidate for the LGBT community, but she’s no John Lewis.
Her stance on marriage equality—that she believes in it personally but thinks the decision should be left up to the states—is a potentially troubling one for a Democratic candidate in 2014, at least from the LGBT community’s perspective.
But she’s definitely the best we have in this dramatic race to replace Saxby, with the fate of the Senate majority at stake. Get your popcorn ready.