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Cammermeyer eyes Capital Hill.

After taking on the military when it tried to throw her out for being a lesbian, Margarethe Cammermeyer is mulling over the possibility of taking on another institution from the inside: Congress.

The retired Army colonel is considering a run for the House next year to represent her Washington State district. "It started with a combination of having retired from the military and wondering where to focus my energies," said Cammermeyer. "When a member of the county Democratic Party said to me a few weeks ago, `Greta, why don't you run?' I said, `Why don't I?'"

In the past, Cammermeyer said, she shrugged off suggestions that she run for office, but her involvement as cochair this year in the campaign for Initiative 677, a Washington State ballot measure that would extend job protections to gay men and lesbians, has whetted her appetite for politics.

"It seems more and more as though there was a translation for my own challenge for equality in the military to what would fit in the civilian community also," she said. During a mid-October trip to Washington, D.C., Cammermeyer met with various Democratic Party officials as well as gay groups to assess her chances. "The first day, I remember thinking that even if I didn't win, I would at least have given it my best shot and that resources from the other side would be used to challenge my challenge," she said. "But after two days I realized that there was no way I'm going to jump into this without the sense that I'm going to win and do everything in my power to win."

Following standard political practice, Cammermeyer said she plans to commission a poll to determine how she would fare in a race against two-term Republican incumbent Jack Metcalf. After that she will decide whether to go forward with a race in the marginally Democratic district.

At the moment, however, Cammermeyer is sounding as though she's more than ready for the campaign: "It's tweaking me, just like taking on the government did."

RELATED ARTICLE: ELECTION '98: Year of the lesbian?

Margarethe Cammermeyer's not the only lesbian with a long and distinguished career in public service who is contemplating a move to Washington, D.C. According to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a national group that raises money for openly gay candidates for public office, at least two other women also have a shot at congressional seats. The group has endorsed Wisconsin state representative Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, for the state's open second-district seat. She hopes to replace four-term Republican congressman Scott Klug, who is retiring. The fund also says San Diego city councilwoman Christine Kehoe, a Democrat, is contemplating a bid to unseat second-term congressman Brian Bilbray, a Republican. She intends to announce her decision early next year.

None of the 435 members of Congress is openly lesbian. Both of the current openly gay congressmen, Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), came out after they were elected. No openly gay or lesbian nonincumbent has ever been elected to Congress, according to the Victory Fund.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:retired Army colonial Margaret Cammermeyer
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 25, 1997
Words:514
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