U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Maine Democrat challenging Republican Gov. Paul LePage, revealed he is gay because "there was suspicion" and he didn't want it detracting from his campaign.
"It was a very difficult decision. It’s a personal decision. It’s one I wish I didn’t have to make, but the fact is there was suspicion out there," Michaud told the Portland Press Herald
"I thought it was important for me to let the people of the state of Maine know up front."
The six-term congressman made his revelation in an opinion piece released to Maine media outlets
on Sunday and told his family of his sexuality just a few hours earlier.
In recent months, Michaud said, there had been increased speculation about his orientation, and with that out of the way, he can concentrate on issues facing the Pine Tree State, such as jobs and healthcare.
"That’s what people really care about. They don’t care if I’m gay. There’s no difference in me today than who I was last week. I’m still Mike," he told the Press Herald.
In his column, Michaud said he wanted to end "the whisper campaigns" that were spreading, although he did not identify the source of them.
"They want people to question whether I am gay. Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: 'Yes I am. But why should it matter?'" Michaud wrote.
Michaud is leading LePage by single digits in the latest polls
, but the race is complicated by independent candidate Eliot Cutler, who is gaining around 20 percent support.
LePage’s campaign had no comment on Michaud's announcement. Cutler said Michaud’s sexuality is "an entirely personal matter that has no bearing whatsoever on a candidate’s qualifications to be governor."
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