FIRST DISTRICT, NH — New Hampshire voters on Tuesday elected their first LGBTQ congressional representative in Chris Pappas. Pappas, a Democrat, defeated Trump-backed Republican Eddie Edwards to win a seat representing the First District, one of the country’s key swing districts. Pappas, 38, also became one of the youngest members of Congress.
“This is a historic moment for our state,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said in a statement. “Chris Pappas will bring decency and integrity to his work … He will be a fierce advocate for the people of New Hampshire in Congress.”
Pappas’ victory was part of a Democratic wave that swept over parts of the country Tuesday, as the party regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time since 2008. Fellow Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kuster cruised to re-election in New Hampshire’s Second District Tuesday, while Democrats took control of the state legislature from Republicans.
“Voters are clearly saying that it’s time to reject the partisanship of the last two years,” Pappas said during his victory speech. “Our democracy has been tested.”
Pappas is a former executive councilor who served three terms. He is single. On the campaign trail, he downplayed the significance of his sexual orientation.
“It’s not meaningful to me,” Pappas said during a recent New Hampshire Public Radio debate. “But I truly believe that we’re all in this together and that by telling your own story, you can ensure that other people are accepted in their communities and can live their truth and pursue a healthy and successful life.”
Edwards, Pappas’ opponent, would have been New Hampshire’s first black congressman. Edwards was endorsed by Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani, one of President Trump’s lawyers, was dispatched to New Hampshire the day before the election to campaign for Edwards.
Edwards, a former police chief, mirrored Pappas in downplaying the significance of his race.
“The notion that we start to believe that we’re special because of our sexual orientation, our race, our gender — we do a disservice to every person born in this country,” Edwards said during the NHPR debate. “I’m not special because I’m black. Chris is not special because he’s gay. You’re not special because you’re a woman. We’re special because of what we give back to our communities, our nation, and our families.”
After his win, Pappas thanked Edwards for running a “vigorous” campaign.
“I wish him all the best,” Pappas said.
Pappas won the seat previously held by fellow Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, who retired after serving four terms. The district covers the eastern part of the state — including Manchester, the biggest city in New Hampshire. The district includes the Patch communities of Portsmouth, Hampton, Exeter, Merrimack, Bedford and Londonderry.
Pappas said health care is his top priority.
“We must build on the Affordable Care Act and protect people with pre-existing conditions,” Pappas said in his victory speech. “There is so much to do.”
Photo credit: Chris Pappas campaign