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Gay Hispanic Republican flips New York City House seat

Santos said he sees no contradiction between his sexual orientation and his party’s politics and has “never experienced discrimination in the Republican Party.”

November 9, 2022 12:58pm

Updated: November 9, 2022 4:34pm

Republican George Devolder-Santos defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in New York’s 3rd Congressional district on Wednesday, becoming the first openly LGBT non-incumbent Republican elected to Congress.

The seat was vacated by Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who stepped away to launch an unsuccessful bid for governor. Santos lost to Suozzi in 2020, 43.5% to 55.9%, but the seat has been rated a toss-up this year by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

Santos’ victory was due in part to Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin’s overperformance in the state governor’s race. He fell about 6 points short of incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul but seems to have buoyed down-ballot races.

Another prominent Democrat who lost in the midterms is Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – the party’s campaign arm.

The son of Brazilian immigrants, Santos said he was running to defend the American dream his family experienced.

In a September interview with NBC News, Santos said he sees no contradiction between his sexual orientation and his party’s politics.

“As a lifelong Republican, I have never experienced discrimination in the Republican Party,” he said at the time. “I am an openly gay candidate. I am not shy.”

The Brazilian American businessman said in another interview that he is a “walking contradiction” to Democrats and claims the city’s LGBT establishment have excluded him from Pride events due to his politics and defense of meritocracy.

NBC News notes other GOP congressmen have won after coming out – Steven Gunderson of Wisconsin and Jim Kolbe of Arizona – or came out as gay after resigning, like Reps. Mark Foley of Florida and Aaron Schock of Illinois.

However, the race is believed to be the first between two openly gay congressional candidates.