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May 5, 2014

Ada County candidate could be first openly gay Idaho Republican


BOISE — We are less than three weeks from the primary election in Idaho, and there is a unique race in Ada County.
The Republicans have no challenger for House District 18B for the primary, but the candidate is working to overcome what some might call challenges of his own.
Domenic Gelsomino got interested in politics in high school. He's Catholic, Sicilian, a first-generation American, multi-lingual, a Boise State graduate and he's running for House Seat 18B at the age of 22. He is conservative with a libertarian leaning.

"I stand with those who are for limited government, civil liberties, civil rights, the belief that the power of the individual is the one that drives our state, the one that drives our economy and our politics," Gelsomino said. "Not freedom through government but freedom from government."

He interned with then Senator Russ Fulcher, and was the director of communications with Senator Kurt McKenzie, who are both, supporting his run. However, there's one thing that really sets Gelsomino apart from any other Republican who has ever served in Idaho: He is openly gay.

"When I first announced (my candidacy), I came out immediately, and the reason being, because I believe that the voters of District 18 deserve honesty, complete and total honesty," he said. "I was not going to hide who I am, because I am not ashamed of who I am."

If he wins in the general election this November, Gelsomino would be the first openly gay male lawmaker and first openly gay republican lawmaker in the Gem State. He came out to his family about a year ago, and has a boyfriend who is involved in his campaign.

"He's as passionate and fire-branded in politics as I am and he's a Chicago liberal," said Gelsomino, who is also trying to protect the individual's privacy.

After coming out to voters, the social news website Buzzfeed picked up his story and Gelsomino said he has gotten support from people across the country.

"We got an overwhelming amount of emails, and letters, and Facebook messages from LGBT Republicans and straight Republicans across the nation saying, 'Wow, kudos to you for being honest, kudos to you for having the courage to run openly in one of the reddest states in the union,'" he said.

Gelsomino said his Republican philosophy of smaller government fits with his support of marriage equality.

"I'm in support of equal marriage," he said. "Of course one day I'd like to get married and be happy, but more-so because there is not constitutional authority for government to be involved in the affairs of a religious institution. It's something that the government needs to stay out of. If we're going to be conservatives, get the government out of the bedroom and get it out of the church."

He says he's the candidate to build a bridge between the LGBT community and GOP.

Gelsomino is running unopposed in the primary, as it his Democrat counterpart, Representative Phylis King. We also spoke with King, the incumbent. She thinks she best represents the people in District 18, and is very confident she will get re-elected this November.

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