LGBT Candidates Look to Pick Up Senate, House Seats

Besides ballot initiatives, there could be some more LGBT firsts on Tuesday.

Wisconsin Republican Senate candidate, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., waves to the crowd before a campaign stop by President Barack Obama at Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, Wis.,Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012.

Wisconsin Republican Senate candidate, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., waves to the crowd before a campaign stop Thursday by President Barack Obama at Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, Wis.

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Tuesday could be a big day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people and their supporters.

The same-sex marriage question could be answered in four states, and LGBT candidates are expected to win several new seats on Capitol Hill.

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Polls show that longtime Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin is in a dead heat to become the first openly gay member of the United States Senate, and LGBT candidates could pick up seats in California, Massachusetts, and Arizona, and retain them in Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

Denis Dison, a spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which works to elect LGBT politicians, says it "could be a banner day" for LGBT politicos.

"We've seen success legislatively when we have openly gay legislators on the floor, once their colleagues meet their partners and their children," he says. "That changes the debate and the outcome in a lot of contests—they can see them as regular American families. We hope that dynamic can play out in Congress."

[READ: In Four States, Gay Marriage is Hotter than the Presidential Race]

Jared Polis, an incumbent Democrat in Colorado, is expected to retain his seat in Congress, and incumbent Democrat David Cicilline is clinging to a one-point lead in Rhode Island. Former President Bill Clinton recently campaigned with Mark Takano, in California's new 41st district. If elected, Takano would become the first minority LGBT member of Congress.

In Massachusetts, Richard Tisei is trying to become the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress—in the latest polls, he has a six-point lead over the incumbent Democrat John Tierney. Democratic LGBT Mark Pocan is expected to easily take over Baldwin's vacated spot in Wisconsin's heavily Democratic 2nd district. In Arizona, bisexual candidate Kyrsten Sinema is taking on Republican Vernon Parker in the newly created 9th district. The race is considered a toss-up.

In New York's 18th district, LGBT candidate Sean Patrick Maloney is expected to lose to incumbent Republican Nan Hayworth, who enjoyed a seven-point lead in the latest polls, though Maloney may have gotten a last-second bump with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's endorsement.

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Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at jkoebler@usnews.com.