Domenic Gelsomino, a 21 year old republican activist, has declared his candidacy for the District 18 State Representative seat.  While most people his age are balancing work and school, Gelsomino is balancing his party beliefs with his personal lifestyle.  He told the world that he's gay during his formal announcement yesterday at the statehouse.

While much has been written about the 'Add the Words' campaign and the allegations of intolerance towards homosexuals on the right, Gelsomino has inserted himself into the middle of the debate.  His candidacy proves the point that the state GOP is far more accepting of his lifestyle than has been portrayed by the state media.

If conservative and/or republican leaders were intolerant, we would not see Mr. Gelsomino coming out or campaigning.   "Everyone from elected officials to Tea Party folks have been receptive and encouraging, " he told me this morning on the radio.  Gelsomino does not want his campaign to be defined by his lifestyle, but knows he cannot avoid the issue.

"The reason I came out was that I wanted to make sure this race was about jobs and the economy.  I didn't want some reporter asking me about my lifestyle while I'm knocking on doors in District 18," he continued.

Whether one agrees with Gelsomino's lifestyle or not, it does take two forms of courage.  One to run for office at any age, and the other to declare oneself gay to the entire world.  A world where most folks do not agree with his lifestyle.

CAN AN IDAHO GAY REPUBLICAN WIN?

That's the million dollar question and one that will tell us more about the future of a two party system in the Gem State.  If Gelsomino wins, it deflates the critics of the right by destroying the intolerance argument.  It could also bring in more socially liberal folks to the state GOP.  The risk is that by running as a republican and getting the backing of some party leaders, social conservatives feel more isolated from the party and stay home.  Perhaps they form their own third party that leads to a new democratic majority.

Hard to believe that a statehouse race will garner so much attention.  I expect the national media to pick this story up soon.  It has all the elements that move the needle.  Conservative gay republican running for office in a red state.  If only we had as much attention on the real issues of Gelsomino's campaign, getting folks back to work and attracting new jobs.