Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Fleck, An Out Gay Republican, Could Lose Seat
One of the state's two out gay lawmakers said his political future is uncertain after what he described as a "vicious" and "personal" campaign against him.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Fleck, the state's first out gay lawmaker, could be in danger of losing his seat to a write-in challenger, according to early numbers from Tuesday's primary election in the state.
Although Fleck was the only candidate in the Republican primary for the seat named on the ballot, he faced a write-in challenge from Huntingdon County Treasurer Richard Irvin. As of Wednesday morning, initial election results indicated Fleck received 3,394 votes, while the option for write-in candidates totaled about 3,700 votes.
Fleck believes Irvin likely received the bulk of those votes, but official totals won't be calculated for several days. Election officials in the three counties that make up the district told BuzzFeed they plan to have preliminary counts on write-in candidates submitted by voters — which might amount to many others than Irvin — on Friday at the earliest. Final numbers won't be available until at least next week, they sad.
Following the Tuesday night results, Fleck updated friends and supporters on his Facebook page Wednesday morning, acknowledging that his political future is uncertain and has been since he came out, writing in part, "I knew that when I came out this race would be nothing more, nothing less than whether my constituency could wrap their mind around the fact that I was a gay man."
Fleck, who was first elected to his seat in 2006, came out in December 2012 and is the only out Republican in Pennsylvania and one of only two out lawmakers in the state. Rep. Brian Sims, a Democrat, was elected as an out gay candidate and took office in early 2013. Sims ran unopposed in this week's primary.
As for the uncertainty as to how many votes Irvin received, Fleck wrote that he assumes his opponent received the "bulk of the write-ins" but that after looking at the tallies posted at polling precincts, there were some at each location with spelling errors and other candidates.
"So we will not have the official count until Friday. There are also 1,500 plus democratic write-in votes. So I may have won on the democratic ballot, but again we will not know until Friday," Fleck wrote.
In the statement, Fleck also said he was excited to see the primary campaign over, which he characterized as "vicious," "deceitful," and "personal," particularly because of political ads and mailers attacking him for his support of LGBT nondiscrimination protections, among other issues, from conservative groups.
"I have run a clean campaign thus far and I can hold my head up high," he wrote. "I was often left wondering who my real opponent was? It certainly wasn't Rich Irvin. I knew I would be attacked from all angles."
Neither Fleck nor Irvin responded to requests for comment.