Michaud says decision to reveal sexuality wasn't easy; says he's had relationships with women too

LEWISTON — In a bombshell announcement Monday, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, a candidate for governor, announced he's gay.

Clarke Canfield/Associated Press

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud

Michaud told the Sun Journal in a phone interview Monday he had relationships with women in the past, but announced he was gay because "other people were trying to make this an issue . . ."

Michaud said he wasn't currently involved in a relationship.

Michaud is running for governor against incumbent Republican Paul LePage and independent Eliot Cutler.  

Michaud said he wanted to end any speculation or rumors about his sexual orientation.

"I figured I would just give an honest direct answer and let people know, yes I am gay, so we can move forward and focus on the issues affecting Maine," Michaud said.  

He said the news didn't change who he was as a candidate for governor or who he is as a person interested in serving the people of the state.

"Nothing has changed as far as who I am," Michaud said. "I'm going to continue to fight for issues that are important for the people here in the state of Maine; (the announcement) is not politically motivated one way or another."

Michaud, home on a weeklong break from Congress, said Sunday and Monday were the only two days he had free and "now is the time for me to address it."

He also said it was unclear how the news would reverberate with voters, especially those in the more conservative portions of the 2nd Congressional District.

"It's hard to speculate and I'm not going to speculate what this is going to do as far as the election," Michaud said. "All I do know is it became clear to me that other people were trying to make this an issue."

Michaud did not elaborate on who those other people were but said he had not previously disclosed his sexual orientation, despite running in numerous campaigns, including six successful bids for Congress.

He said simply the matter had not come up in the past.

In a letter penned exclusively for the Bangor Daily News, the Portland Press Herald and the Associated Press, Michaud wrote that a whisper campaign and rumors, some on talk radio, led him to the disclosure.

Michaud's campaign staff later said they felt it was important that voters hear the news first in Michaud's own words but would not say why the Sun Journal had been excluded from the release.

When asked why Sun Journal readers in western Maine were not afforded the same courtesy, Michaud said, "I don't want to get into that" and offered to speak to the newspaper's executive editor about the decision.

The decision to go public was a difficult one and one he knew would affect his family and friends, but most have "been extremely supportive," Michaud said.

"The fact that the people who supported me in my race for governor came out and said they are very glad they did, now more than ever," Michaud said.

Meanwhile, former opponents and statewide political observers were left speculating over the timing of Michaud's announcement.

Some also congratulated him on his courage but said they didn't believe the move would be that useful in terms of garnering votes in some quarters of Maine.

"I wonder why he announced it now and I wonder why he announced it, frankly, at all," said Jason Levesque, an Auburn Republican who challenged Michaud for his U.S. House seat in 2010.

Levesque also said he recalled meeting a woman on the campaign trail in 2010 that Michaud was introducing as his "girlfriend," although he couldn't recall her name.

Michaud later confirmed he was on the campaign trail with a woman.

"I've had relationships with women in the past," Michaud said. "But, as I've mentioned earlier, my personal life is my personal life and I'm not going to get involved in that regard."

Levesque also said the announcement that Michaud is gay could diminish his popularity in the 2nd Congressional District, where all but one of the district's 10 counties voted against the 2012 same-sex marriage referendum.

While approved by overwhelming margins in Maine's most populous counties, York and Cumberland, voters in the state's most rural counties largely rejected the initiative that made gay marriage legal.

"Honestly, I think it hurts him in the 2nd District," Levesque said.

Levesque said he didn't think people would question Michaud's sexual orientation so much as they would question why he waited so long to tell people about it.

"I do not believe that it will be him being gay that's the issue," Levesque said. "I believe it will be that he hid it for so long that's the issue. It's not his homosexuality — it's why did he hide it for so long? That's an important distinction. People will cross the line and say, 'Oh, you are not going to vote for him because he's gay?  You're homophobic.' I don't think that's a question, I don't think that's an issue."

Levesque said what people will start to question is Michaud's honesty.

"What else has he said that isn't true — or is a bending of the truth?" he asked.

Still, Levesque said since the 2010 campaign, he had been able to work with Michaud on several issues that were important to the call center industry in Maine and credited Michaud with being an advocate for entrepreneurs and small business in Washington.  

Levesque said he was also impressed with Michaud's bravery in announcing his sexual orientation.

"I'll never fault the man for not having guts and courage," Levesque said. "He left a seat that was basically his until death in the U.S. House to run for a non-open seat for governor and then he announces this two months later — yeah, he's got some guts."

Michaud has easily carried Lewiston and Androscoggin County in his last few runs for Congress. In 2008, he won the city with 12,361 votes while his Republican challenger John Frary of Farmington garnered 3,711 votes.

In 2010, Michaud won 7,033 votes and his Republican challenger, Levesque, picked up 4,775 votes.

Last year, Michaud won Lewiston with 10,562 votes while his Republican challenger and former state Senate President Kevin Raye won just 4,877 votes.

Meanwhile, Lewiston voters rejected the same-sex marriage proposal with 8,396 voting against it and 7,482 supporting the measure.

Michaud said his sexual orientation was never made an issue in any of his previous campaigns.

"There are some who would actually try to make it an issue and that's why I figured I would address it now," Michaud said.  

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Slick move of guaranteeing

Slick move of guaranteeing himself the gay vote.

and also gay campaign money,

and also gay campaign money, especially from out of state.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Spot on.

Spot on.

Genise Knowlton's picture

Heterosexual, Bisexual, Gay....

Who really cares! And why does it matter? It's another ploy to keep voters distracted from the real issues, instill fear and discourse, etc. Maine voters already have spoken on this issue - gay marriage is legal! I dare say infidelity & adultery is probably a larger issue in politicians lives.

Honestly, sexual orientation was never one of my criteria when I went to the polls before...and in my opinion it shouldn't be a criteria in the future. Just saying....

RONALD RIML's picture

As my Mother would say:

So........

MARK GRAVE's picture

Here we go. We are going to

Here we go. We are going to hear about Michaud's sexuality, which is really a non-issue, for an entire election cycle. Moreover, many Michuad supporter will keep trying to get LePage to shoot his mouth off about this topic. Michaud's timing is purely politically motivated. The ends justifies the means, a common trait among democrats.

My advice to LePage is simply dismiss anyone who approaches him on this topic with saying that this campaign is about state governance, not Michaud's private life - next question please.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Now, if you don't vote for

Now, if you don't vote for Michaud, you must be a homophobe.

MARK GRAVE's picture

...and a racist, and a bigot,

...and a racist, and a bigot, and a cornucopia of other names.

Lastly, you are the lining on the bottom of the parrots abode.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Trying to get Lepage to shoot his mouth off

Are you kidding? His campaign manager must be laying in duct tape and knockout drugs by the ton. There will be no way to stop him from shooting his mouth off about this and everything else. Where have you been for the last five years?

Jane Ryerson's picture

michaud political agenda

I agree this is all politically motivated and it makes him no different then what is going on in Washington right now. If this is a sample of how he operates, we don't need it. At least LePage is open, up front and isn't afraid to speak his mind, which I know ruffles the feathers of thos PC people and the touchy feely ones also. LePage needs to stay right away fromt his subject.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Politics

I have news for you. In American politics today everything and everyone is politically motivated twenty four seven. These guys start running re-election campaigns an hour after they get elected. If you think only Democrats do this you are living in la la land.

MARK GRAVE's picture

I second that motion...

I second that motion...

Dana Burgess's picture

Nice

Nice think of all the free press and exposure he is getting. Hope he doesn't turn out to be straight.

MARK GRAVE's picture

The ends justifies the means,

The ends justifies the means, a common trait among democrats.

Dexter Voter's picture

Gay or not

I have never voted for him and just because he wants to make being a gay an isssue he is still not going to get my vote. He has done nothing in Washington except vote party lines and has no plan on doing anything as Governor other following party lines and putting this state into more debt.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Please refresh my memory...........

Name a few things Paul LePage has done for the people of Maine, particularly those who need help the most. Explain his assistance for those who desperately need medical intervention and can't get it. Those who can't afford their monthly medications. He paid the debt owed to the hospitals, now what has he done to avoid this from happening again. What's his answer to skyrocketing property taxes? What about education?
Paul LePage hasn't done squat for the citizens of Maine. His big mouth and dictator's approach to government will only ruin the way of life in Maine. He has proven to be an embarrassment to us all, and made Maine a laughing stock nation wide.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Did he not preside over same

Did he not preside over same sex marriage being legalized in Maine?

MARK GRAVE's picture

We have a winner!!! He gets

We have a winner!!! He gets it.

GEORGE MCLEAN's picture

Michaud departing closet

If Mike cannot even make his mind up on his sexual preference, been with women, been with men, then how the hell is he going to make clear decisions on running a State like Maine?

RONALD RIML's picture

So Mike may have twice the field to play than you, George.....

Jealousy will get you nowhere.......

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Switch hitter?

Switch hitter?

GEORGE MCLEAN's picture

Michaud departing closet

If Mike cannot even make his mind up on his sexual preference, been with women, been with men, then how the hell is he going to make clear decisions on running a State like Maine?

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Not that it matters but have

Not that it matters but have you considered he might be bisexual? Many people are but don't feel the need to advertise that fact as there are people out there who consider that to be even worse then being gay.

Robert McQueeney's picture

Political points

Political points is all he is interested in. This should not be an issue, and it wouldn't be brought up now, unless he is pandering for a voting block.

Now can we hear about his stances on issues that affect us? What has he done while in DC? In light of his political history, would he make a good fit in Augusta?

Gerry Thompson's picture

It's

old news now, move on to important stuff.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Michaud says decision to reveal sexuality wasn't easy . ..

Mainers 18:05 hst ? Monday
Good ?
/s , Steve
also : http://www.collins.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2011/4/post-6a60ada4-c76f...

Randall Pond's picture

Being Gay

If Someone's Sexual Orientation is going influence your decision on who runs the state of Maine Then you're a Sad Individual who needs to get a life. What we need in the Blaine House is someone for the people not a Hot Headed J****** like we have now who is out for himself and no one else. I never voted for the man and I don't like the man and the sooner LePage is out of Augusta, the Better off Maine will be.

I wish Congressman Michaud Good Luck in Running for Governor. He has my vote because he is for ALL OF US, not just some of us.

MARK GRAVE's picture

"He has my vote because he is

"He has my vote because he is for ALL OF US"

How do you know that? He probably does not represent the near 50% who don't vote for him. Perhaps saying, he is for giving me handouts is more appropriate.

For us Lepage supporters, we

For us Lepage supporters, we were for Lepage before Michaud had his coming out moment. Michauds part of the problem in Washington, we don't need him running Maine.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Randy ? Ayuh ? btw - Gov.

Randy ? Ayuh ? btw - Gov. Chris Christie ( R ) of NJ just said the same thing ( in a different context )
" He has my vote because he is for ALL OF US ."
Alo'ha from the rainbow warrior state
btw - thank goodness for the fourth estate , LSJ ®
/s, Steve
http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/has-the-anti-gay-religious-right-be...

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