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In his liberal Colorado district, it's no big deal that Jared Polis is gay. But his expected congressional race victory on Election Day would be a historic milestone and, he hopes, send an encouraging message to gay and lesbian young people across the United States. Polis, a 33-year-old entrepreneur who made millions creating Internet-based businesses, is the Democratic nominee and overwhelming favorite in the district encompassing his hometown of Boulder. If he wins Nov. 4, he would be the first openly gay man to win a seat in Congress as a non-incumbent. There have been at least five other gays and lesbians in Congress, including currently serving Reps. Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin, but only Baldwin was open about her sexuality when first elected.
Polis is one of a record 100 gay, lesbian and bisexual candidates for federal, state and local offices winning endorsements this year from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a U.S. group founded in 1991 to increase the number of openly gay elected officials. The number has risen -- steadily but slowly -- to more than 420 out of the roughly 500,000 elected officials in the country
--In Oregon, state Sen. Kate Brown, who describes herself as bisexual, is the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, the No. 2 job in the state. --In one of the most conservative states in America, Democrat Jim Roth is seeking election to the three-member Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which oversees energy, transportation and utilities. In 2002, Roth became the first openly gay man to win any elected office in Oklahoma -- a county government post. --In Texas, Lupe Valdez faces tough opposition in her bid for re-election as Dallas County sheriff. In 2004, she became the first woman, first lesbian and first Latina sheriff. --In Pennsylvania, the Victory Fund has endorsed Kevin Lee, a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives from suburban Philadelphia, and says he would -- if victorious -- be the first openly gay legislator ever in the state. Another political milestone is approaching in liberal Portland, Oregon, which is scheduled to become the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor when Sam Adams takes office in January. Adams averted the need for a Nov. 4 runoff election by winning 58 percent of the vote against a large field in first-round voting in May.