Half of Stonewall-endorsed candidates win primaries

Posted on 04 Mar 2010 at 6:15pm
By John Wright | News Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

5 more face runoffs; LGBT Democratic group will issue new endorsements for runoffs


Erin Moore

Fifteen of 30 candidates in contested races who were endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas won their primaries outright on Tuesday, March 2, led by former Houston Mayor Bill White, who’ll face Republican Gov. Rick Perry in November.

Another five candidates endorsed by Stonewall advanced to runoffs, while 10 were defeated.

Stonewall President Erin Moore said the group will re-endorse in runoffs in which its previously endorsed candidate wasn’t one of the top two vote-getters, at its regular meeting in March. Stonewall will also re-endorse for the Nov. 2 general election following the April 13 runoff.

The LGBT Democratic group has endorsed upward of 50 candidates this year, including dozens who were unopposed in the primary.

Moore said she was "very, very pleased" with White’s landslide victory over runner-up Farouk Shami in the gubernatorial primary. White, endorsed by Stonewall, captured 76 percent of the vote statewide, 80 percent in Dallas County and 89 percent in the county’s most heavily LGBT precincts.

Moore said she views White’s convincing win as a "mandate" and believes he has a legitimate chance of knocking off Perry in the general election.

She added that she was hoping for a runoff for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but she believes Perry, who won outright with 51 percent of the vote, will make an easier target for Democrats than second-place-finisher Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

"That [a runoff] would have been nice, but eventually we got the candidate we wanted to run against," Moore said.


Eric Johnson

The governor’s race creates a stark contrast on LGBT issues. For example, Perry championed Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, while White has said he voted against it.

"We couldn’t have a worse enemy than Perry," Moore said.

Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, said he plans to support Perry despite the incumbent’s less-than-favorable record on LGBT issues. Log Cabin didn’t make an endorsement in the primary, but Schlein said he expects the state chapter to back Perry in November.

"My likes outweigh my dislikes," Schlein said of Perry. "I think Texas, comparatively speaking, is in much better financial shape than most other states. We’ve had pretty good conservative governance."

In other races of significant LGBT interest:

• Attorney Eric Johnson defeated State Rep. Terri Hodge for the Democratic nomination in District 100, which includes much of Oak Lawn. Stonewall initially endorsed Hodge, a longtime LGBT ally in the House, but un-endorsed her after she pleaded guilty to a felony charge in February in connection with the Dallas City Hall corruption scandal. Hodge’s name remained on the ballot, and some predicted she would still win, in which case the party’s nominee would have been selected by precinct chairs in the district. But Johnson captured 75 percent of the vote to Hodge’s 25 percent. Johnson had an openly gay campaign manager, Juan Ayala, and his wife is on the board of Resource Center Dallas. There is no Republican on the November ballot.

• Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes, whose jurisdiction includes heavily gay areas of Oak Cliff and Oak Lawn, faces a runoff amid ongoing county investigations of his office. Cortes is endorsed by Stonewall and has been a loyal supporter of the group since being appointed to the position by the Commissioners Court in 2007. Cortes, who replaced disgraced openly gay Constable Mike Dupree, will face challenger Beth Villarreal, whom he defeated in 2008 by 55 percent to 45 percent. This time, Cortes received 36 percent to Villarreal’s 33 percent. Mike Orozco received 26 percent and Ozumba Lnuk-X received 5 percent. There is no Republican on the November ballot.

• Former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Elba Garcia easily defeated Rose Renfroe for the Democratic nomination for the District 4 seat on the Dallas County Commissioners Court. Garcia, who represented heavily gay District 1 on the Dallas City Council, is a longtime LGBT ally and is endorsed by Stonewall Democrats. In November, Garcia will face Republican incumbent Kenneth Mayfield, a social conservative. If both Garcia and the Democratic nominee for county judge win, the party would have a majority on the Commissioners Court. Advocates say this would open the door to job protections and domestic partner benefits for LGBT county employees.

• In statewide races, Stonewall-endorsed candidate Hank Gilbert won the Democratic nomination for agriculture commissioner, defeating Kinky Friedman. Gilbert, once a candidate for governor, has issued a comprehensive policy statement on LGBT issues, titled "Equality for All." He’ll face Republican incumbent Todd Staples, a former state senator who touts himself on his Web site as an author/sponsor of Texas’ constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In the lieutenant governor’s race, Stonewall-endorsed candidate Ronnie Earle, the former Travis County district attorney, was defeated by labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 5, 2010.

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