After coming out, Michaud attracts heavy hitters to fundraiser in D.C.

Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine. BDN photo by Mario Moretto.

Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine. BDN photo by Mario Moretto.

Rep. Mike Michaud has said repeatedly that he won’t make coming out of the closet a focal point of his campaign for governor in 2014. So far, he’s kept to that pretty well. Since coming out, he’s proposed a plan to close the wage gap and weighed in on the state’s ongoing non-emergency ride program fiasco, in addition to his activities as a sitting congressman.

But that promise apparently isn’t stopping him from using it as a fundraising tool. This shouldn’t surprise you. Pretty much every story written about Michaud coming out as gay included speculation about how the revelation could be a financial boon for his campaign thanks to national interest in electing the nation’s first openly gay governor.

And that’s exactly the line Michaud is using in attracting people to a swanky D.C. fundraiser on Dec. 11: The congressman will attend a fundraiser for his campaign at the Washington, D.C., home of Robert Raben, a powerful lobbyist for progressive interests whose client list includes the American Civil Liberties Union.

Raben has been called one of the capital’s top lobbyists by several beltway observers. He’s contributed $8,500 to 2014 campaigns, so far, including a $5,000 gift in June to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. (He also, apparently, is “perhaps best known for hosting salon discussions at his house in Logan Circle with well-known journalists and politicos.” You can’t make this stuff up.)

Michaud has put being gay front-and-center in the fundraiser invitation email, which “cordially invites you to join [the hosts] at a reception to help elect the first openly gay governor in America.”

Other hosts include U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, who is one of a handful of openly gay lawmakers in Washington; The Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church; Mary Bonauto, a Portland attorney and LGBT rights advocate who was a member of the team that successfully persuaded the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act; Winnie Stachelberg, an executive with liberal Center for American Progress; and Matt McTighe, who led the campaign to win gay marriage in Maine last year and now works for the Michaud 2014 effort.

Eliot Cutler also got some weight thrown behind his campaign this week from a high-profile LGBT activist when Betsy Smith, a former executive director for EqualityMaine, endorsed him in an OpEd.

I spoke with Lizzy Reinholt from the Michaud campaign. She said her candidate’s supporters like him for different reasons, and fundraisers similarly focus on different themes. Some hosts rally around Michaud’s record on labor issues, for example, or veterans affairs. Now that we all know he’s gay, some will rally around his campaign’s potential for a historic victory, she said, and that’s what’s happening with the Raben fundraiser.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.