Originally published: Nov. 5, 2008 1:15 p.m.
Updated: Nov. 6, 2008, 9:55 a.m.

Openly gay candidates across North and South Carolina faced a tough Election Day on Tuesday. Of the few candidates seeking office, only one won her reelection bid.

Wade Boyles, Democratic candidate of N.C. House District 74, lost his bid to oust incumbent Republican Rep. Dale Folwell 59.47% to 40.53%. Boyles had entered the race at a late date, being chosen by the Forsyth County Democratic Party to replace the former candidate. Boyles also served as on the campaign of U.S. House District 5 Democratic candidate Roy Carter.

State Sen. Julia Boseman (D-New Hanover), North Carolina’s only openly gay legislator, kept her seat in a 51.65%-48.35 lead over Republican challenger Michael Lee. Boseman had been coming under scrutiny after details of the breakup with her partner became public. Members of the African-American community have also accused Boseman of being racist after a claim she used a derogatory racial slur. The senator has denied making such remarks.

In South Carolina, James Akers, Jr. was behind in his race for Greenville County Council. With all precincts reporting, Republican Liz Seman led Akers 60.15% to 39.73%.

In one of the strongest showings of any first-time, openly gay candidate, Democrat Linda Ketner barely lost her chance to be the first openly gay federal official elected from the Southeast. She conceded to incumbent Republican U.S. House Rep. Henry Brown in the race for South Carolina’s First Congressional District.

At mid-day Wednesday, only two of the five counties in the district had reported their votes in Ketner and Brown’s race.

“We are still waiting on some of the numbers,” Ketner’s Communication Director Kelly Love Johnson told Q-Notes before Ketner’s concession. “It might actually be as small as a matter of 8,000 votes.”

Johnson said Ketner called to congratulate Brown on Wednesday.

At the end of Wednesday, four of five counties had reported results of Brown’s 52.97% to Ketner’s 46.87%

In polls leading up to the election, Ketner and Brown had run neck-and-neck. Her strategy of attacking Brown’s integrity and service to the First District was credited with her success in the polls.

In the N.C. Court of Appeals race, openly gay incumbent Judge John S. Arrowood was defeated by challenger Bob Hunter. Conservative religious groups had attacked Arrowood’s judicial integrity and sexual orientation in late 2007 in the run-up to the 2008 race. Hunter led Arrowood 53.69% to 46.31%.

In 2008, openly gay candidates in the Carolinas were given their opportunity to shine. Across the two states a total of more than seven gay or lesbian citizens campaigned for office. Chapel Hill resident Jim Neal’s failed primary bid against U.S. Senator-elect Kay Hagan and South Carolina’s Ketner’s run for Congress were among the most watched LGBT races in the country.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

One reply on “Openly gay candidates face tough Election Day”

  1. I never heard anything about any conservative religious groups saying anything about Arrowood. ENC even mentioned in their recent email that his being gay was not made an issue in the election. Please cite your sources because I would love to read what those folks said.

    Ed. Note — You can read more about Arrowood and his dealings with religious opponents at the N.C. Family Policy Council and Christian Action League at: Pam’s House Blend and InterstateQ. Thank you.

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