Mark Takano has made history by winning his election in California’s new 41st Congressional District. The Democrat beat Republican challenger John Tavaglione and will become the first openly gay person of color ever to serve in Congress. He will also be the first out person to represent the Golden State on the federal level.
Takano, who is Japanese-American, was attacked for being openly gay during his first congressional campaign in 1994. He says the experience running this time was much different from the one nearly two decades ago.
Outed during that contentious 1994 race, Takano’s opponents insinuated he had some sort of “homosexual agenda” and sent pink political mailers that questioned whether as a congressman Takano could represent the people of Riverside (a part of California’s right-leaning Inland Empire region) or would he really represent “San Francisco?”
“Times certainly have changed,” Takano said. “And in my current race not a single voter has asked me about being gay.”
While Inland Empire remains a bit right of center, Takano’s sexual orientation wasn’t a factor in this race. As a candidate, Takano instead focused on what is critical to his constituents (more jobs, good companies, ample Medicare) in what many pundits called one of the most important races in the country.