Gay-friendly candidates win big in Texas

Posted on 06 Oct 2008 at 9:09pm
By Tammye Nash – Senior Editor

HRC sees near-sweep by endorsed candidates in North Texas

Carol Kent, right, defeated Republican incumbent Tony Goolsby in state House District 102. – PRAVEEN SATHIANATHAN/Dallas Voice

President-elect Barack Obama had some long coattails in the Tuesday, Nov. 4 election, and those coattails paid off for a number of gay and gay-friendly Democratic candidates in Texas endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign.

"Certainly the excitement of the Obama candidacy brought more people to the polls. What we’re finding is that those voters were largely progressive and open-minded, which really helped our candidates," said HRC board member Jeff Strater of Dallas.

Strater said there is "definitely an exciting atmosphere" in the LGBT community following Tuesday’s elections, and that activists are already preparing to promote an agenda in the Texas Legislature that would include employment protections for LGBT people and protections against anti-gay bullying in public schools, as well as efforts to protect against possible anti-gay measures such as one that would restrict adoption or foster parenting by lesbians and gays.

"There is a great opportunity now for us," Strater said. "But the losses on Proposition 8 in California and anti-gay ballot measures in Florida, Arkansas and Arizona show us that there is definitely still a great deal of work to do in terms of bridging the gap between us and other communities. There is obviously a disconnect there, and we need to work through that."

Strater said that all of the candidates in North Texas endorsed by HRC won except one. The winners included Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (see related story Page 6) and District 107 State Rep. Allan Vaught, who both won re-election. Vaught beat Republican Bill Keffer by a 50 percent-47 percent margin, with 3 percent of the vote going to Libertarian Brad Parsons. The district is in East Dallas.

Carol Kent unseated Republican incumbent Tony Goolsby by a 6-point margin in House District 102, located on the northeast side of Dallas. And in the Grand Prairie area, incumbent Paula Pierson easily fended of Republcan challenger Bill Burch by 57-percent to 41 percent. Libertarian Colin F. Sewards got 2 percent in that race.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, one of the few members of Congress from Texas to receive a perfect score on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard this year, easily defeated Republican challenger Fred Wood in District 30, 85 percent to 16 percent. Libertarian Jarret Woods got 1 percent.

In Texas Senate District 10, challenger Wendy Davis unseated Republican incumbent Kim Brimer in a close race, 50 percent to 47 percent. Libertarian Richard Cross got 3 percent.

Other HRC-endorsed candidates who won in Texas were:

• Incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Green in District 9.

• Incumbent U.S. Rep. Ruben E. Hinojosa in District 15.

• Incumbent U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes in District 16.

• Incumbent U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in District 18.

• Incumbent U.S. Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez in District 20.

• Incumbent U.S. Rep. Ciro D. Rodriguez in District 23.

• Incumbent U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett in District 25.

• Incumbent U.S. Rep.Gene Green in District 29.

• Incumbent state Rep. Valinda Bolton in District 47.

• Incumbent state Rep. Donna Howard in District 48.

• State House challenger Chris Turner in District 96.

• State House challenger Kristi Thibaut in District 133.

• Incumbent state Rep. Hubert Vo in District 149.

Two candidates endorsed by HRC face runoffs.

Diana Maldonado got 49 percent of the vote in the race for the open seat in Texas House District 52, putting her 2 points ahead of Republican Bryan Daniel with 47 percent. But Libertarian candidate Lillian Simmons pulled down 4 percent, just enough to force Maldonado and Daniel into a runoff there.

In the special election in Texas Senate District 17, Democrat Chris Bell got 38 percent of the total vote, the most of the six candidates in the race. He now faces a runoff with Republican Joan Huffman who came in second with 26 percent of the vote.

Other candidates in the race were Democrat Stephanie E. Simmons with 14 percent; Republican Austen Furse with 10 percent; Republican Ken Sherman with 7 percent; and Republican Grant Harpold with 4 percent.

Texas candidates endorsed by HRC who lost on Tuesday were:

• U.S. Senate candidate Rick Noriega who lost to incumbent Sen. John Cornyn.

• U.S. Rep. candidate Michael Skelly in District 7.

• U.S. Rep. candidate Larry Joe Dougherty in District 10.

• Incumbent state Rep. Juan Garcia in District 32.

U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, the Democratic incumbent in District 22, lost to Republican Pete Olsen, 45 percent to 52 percent, with 2 percent going to Libertarian John Wieder.

Lampson won the heavily-Republican District 22 seat — long held by anti-gay Republican Tom DeLay — in 2006 with considerable financial and volunteer support from the LGBT community in Texas. He had appealed to the community for help, and had posted a gay-friendly record as a previous U.S. representative before redistricting.

But during his most recent term in Congress, Lampson got a 0 on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard, turning his back on his LGBT supporters perhaps in an effort to appeal to more conservative voters in his very conservative district.

E-mail nash@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 7, 2008.

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