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Openly LGBT candidates win in Tuesday's elections
by Lisa Keen, Keen News Service
2019-11-06

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More than 75 percent of openly LGBT candidates running in the Nov. 5 off-year elections won. The total was 112: 106 Democrats, one Republican one Independent and four with undeclared party affiliations.

It was a happy night for Democrats. Anti-LGBT Republican Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky was beaten by pro-LGBT Democrat Andy Beshear—although Bevin had yet to concede. In 2016, the Republican presidential nominee won Kentucky with a 30-point margin over Democrat Hillary Clinton. In Virginia, where gerrymandered districts installed Republican majorities in both the state House and Senate in 2017, courts quashed the map and voters gave Democrats a sizeable majority in both chambers.

All nine openly LGBT candidates in Virginia won their races, including five incumbents in the General Assembly. Among those five was Danica Roem, a transgender candidate who won a stunning upset victory against an incumbent Republican two years ago for a House seat. On Nov. 5, she won re-election against another anti-LGBT Republican challenger, with a margin of victory six points larger than in 2017. Roem raised nearly twice as much money as her opponent, Kelly McGinn. McGinn had signed onto a letter calling same-sex marriage "morally repugnant."

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Alphonso David said the results in Virginia sent "a powerful message that Virginians support a bold, progressive vision for the future of the Commonwealth." David said HRC helped turn out 1.2 million "Equality Voters" in Virginia and spent over $250,000 to elect "pro-equality candidates across Virginia."

Pennsylvania, a state that President Trump won by less than 1 percent in 2016, experienced a "blue wave" of voter support for Democratic candidates. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, said Republican candidates were "fading even on friendly turf." The Keystone State fielded the largest number of LGBT candidates than any other state: 14. And 13 of those 14, all Democrats, won, including Jessica Rothchild to the Scranton City Council.

Ohio also voted for Trump in 2016, but Democrats did well this year, and all 12 of Ohio's openly LGBT candidates won, including new Toledo City Council member Theresa Gadus.

In Indiana—which gave Trump an almost 20-point margin over Clinton in 2016—the 25-member Indianapolis City Council picked up three new openly LGBT City Council members to join another who won re-election Nov. 5. Alison "Ali" Brown, Keith Potts and Ethan Evans will now join Zach Adamson on the capital city's governing board. Brown and Evans are openly bisexual and married to spouses of the opposite sex. Evans and Potts both beat Republican incumbents.

In Georgia, openly gay Doraville City Councilman Joseph Geierman won the plurality of votes (39 percent) in a field of four candidates, and is in a Dec. 3 run-off election against the incumbent (who received 28 percent of the votes).

Among the more stinging of the 21 LGBT losses Nov. 5 was that of Telluride, Colorado, Mayor Sean Murphy, who lost his bid for re-election to a second term. Telluride was among only five incumbent LGBT candidates who lost their re-election bids. In Houston, where five openly LGBT candidates were running as Democrats for City Council, only two won.

Of the 112 openly LGBT candidates, 105 were running for local office. The field included 67 men, 44 women (including six trans women), and one non-binary candidate.

The national Victory Fund said 80 of the candidates it endorsed won Tuesday night. The organization said it directed more than $420,000 to its endorsed candidates.

"We are building a pipeline of out LGBTQ leaders at every level of government," said Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund and former mayor of Houston.

Other highlights among the Nov. 5 results:

—In a Seattle City Council race, openly gay candidate Egan Orion appears to have beaten an incumbent in District 3. Orion, a gay activist and former organizer of Seattle's pride parades, told local news outlets that he was "really frustrated" that the corporate giant Amazon supported his campaign through a political action committee that gave half a million dollars to his bid.

—In the Texas House district outside Houston, lesbian Eliz Markowitz was the top vote-getter among six candidates and the only Democrat. But now she'll have to run against just one of those Republicans for the heavily Republican 28th District seat. The runoff will take place in December.

—Former Florida State Rep. David Richardson will meet and opponent in a runoff for a seat on the Miami Beach Commission. Richardson came up just one point short of reaching enough votes to win the seat Tuesday. Richardson won 49 percent of the vote; his runoff opponent won 38 percent.

—In tiny Carrboro, North Carolina, openly lesbian Mayor Lydia Lavelle won re-election unopposed and openly gay newcomer Damon Seils won one of three seats on the town's Board of Aldermen, coming in second out of five candidates. In nearby Hillsborough, openly gay incumbent Matt Hughes came in first out of four candidates running for three seats on the Board of Commissioners.

—In Newton, Massachusetts, transgender candidate Holly Ryan was unopposed for a seat on the City Council, making her the first transgender woman to win election to public office in the 11th most populated city in the state. Prior to running for office, Ryan served as the LGBT liaison for two mayors.

The Victory Fund estimates there are 765 openly LGBT elected officials nationwide. Parker said "Americans are understandably focused on the 2020 presidential and congressional elections, but the LGBTQ candidates who won tonight will arguably have a greater impact on the everyday lives of their constituents."

©2019 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

[Editor's note: Equality Illinois noted the election-night developments, stating, "LGBTQ representation in public office matters. Last night over 80 LGBTQ people won in their elections across the country. This bipartisan group of leaders will undoubtedly make their communities better—for LGBTQ people, our allies, and all constituents.

"Congratulations to every LGBTQ person who won last night and more importantly, congrats to the communities in which they'll serve. We applaud our partners at the Victory Fund who did so much to help support this LGBTQ wave last night.

"Onward to 2020!"]


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