Gay power couple draws national attention after play for Congressional seat in New York

by Isaiah Webster III


POLITICO has a fabulous, and juicy, profile of Sean Eldridge — the husband of Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes. Eldridge (pictured left) is running for Congress, and Hughes is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The New Republic. Eldridge is 27, and Hughes is 30; and with a net worth of more than $700 million, the couple is quite the gay power duo.

Apparently, Eldridge wants to buy his way into Congress. Having just moved into New York’s 19th Congressional District in 2013, he now wants to become its representative. He’s matching contributions dollar for dollar. He also actively avoids the press.

Two high-profile gay men making waves in the national press about a Congressional power grab? Yes ma’am, this is some good stuff!

New York’s 19th is an evenly divided district, and it’s currently represented by a liberal Republican named Chris Gibson, a war veteran of middle-class means. Can you see the vivid storyline developing here?

Though POLITCO took a somewhat adversarial approach to its profile, most of it comes off very matter-of-fact:

Both were making serious moves in Democratic politics. In 2009, Eldridge withdrew from Columbia Law School to join a gay marriage advocacy group. In 2012, Hughes bought The New Republic, where he currently is publisher and editor-in-chief.

Friends say the two are very different personalities. Eldridge is an extrovert and social animal, Hughes is more reserved. Hughes — who did not appear in Eldridge’s introductory campaign video — does not participate in day-to-day campaign conversations or strategy sessions, instead providing moral support to the candidate.

“If you see the two of them at an event, Chris is the unassuming one. Sean is the one who will get up and ask you, ‘How is your day?’” said a person who knows the couple well.

Chris-Hughes-Eldridge-AdvocateUp to this point, Eldridge and Hughes have been covered by mainly the gay press. The couple appeared on the cover of The Advocate as part of its “Forty under 40” series, which profiles influential gay people under the age of 40. POLITICO is the trendsetter among Washington’s echo chamber, so it will be interesting to see how many other national publications pick up on this story.

Rich people try to buy Congressional seats all the time, but it’s a new thing to see a young gay couple try it. It adds a completely new dimension to political gawking. Ultimately, the citizens of New York’s 19th Congressional District will decide if Eldridge is sufficient to be their Congressman. But in a broader sense, that’s the boring part. It will be far more entertaining to see how the media reacts to this young couple — and the precedents set for how powerful gay political couples are covered. This is going to be good.