Lesbian TX House candidate says she changed conversation despite defeat

johnson.ann

Ann Johnson

Lesbian attorney Ann Johnson lost her bid to replace freshman incumbent state Rep. Sarah Davis in Houston’s House District 134.

Johnson trailed in votes throughout election night, ending with 45 percent of the vote to Davis’ 56 percent with about 7,500 votes separating them.

Johnson would have been the second openly LGBT woman elected to the Texas Legislature after El Paso’s Mary Gonzalez.

But while Davis’ record appears to be anti-gay because she voted to ban LGBT resource center at state universities, Equality Texas has said that she expressed an interest in working with them again after collaborating with them on the anti-bullying bill last session.

Johnson told Dallas Voice that she was proud of her campaign and volunteers. She said her campaign deserved credit for the shift in focus to public education and healthcare in the race, two items which Davis started to speak more about because of Johnson.

“I think we ran a great race. We had a tremendous outpouring of support from volunteers who were out phone banks, block walking and standing out at the polls in support of our campaign,” Johnson said. “There was a great shift, I believe, that happened in this district and even Rep. Davis began to speak about trying to be independent and make these issues that we were discussing a priority. I think that’s a credit to the support that we had and the campaign that we ran. I’m excited with what we’ve been able to do and creating a new conversation for priorities in Texas.”

—  Anna Waugh

Houston Chronicle endorses lesbian House candidate Ann Johnson

Ann Johnson

Houston’s Ann Johnson received the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle on Monday.

Johnson, a Houston child advocacy attorney who is an out lesbian, faces Republican incumbent Sarah Davis, whom the Chronicle described as speaking about “politics with a fiery passion, but her passion often seems aimed more at Washington than Austin.”

The endorsement attributes Davis’ victory in the swing district of 134 to tea party turnout two years ago.

Johnson has highlighted the distinct differences between herself and tea party-backed Davis on issues like healthcare and education.

She (Davis) successfully navigated the minefield of wedge-issue votes that defined the previous legislative session — voting no on the sonogram bill, for example. But voters deserve a representative who doesn’t just avoid bad votes, but leads on good ones. We believe Democratic challenger Ann Johnson can be that sort of leader.

Read the full endorsement here.

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas fundraiser for out lesbian House hopeful Ann Johnson raises almost $3K

Ann Johnson speaks at a fundraiser July 24 at Stoneleigh P in Dallas about changes she wants to make to education and healthcare if elected to represent Houston’s District 134 in the state Legislature. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

A cozy crowd gathered Tuesday to mix and mingle with out lesbian Ann Johnson, the Democratic candidate for Houston’s House District 134, at Stoneleigh P restaurant in Dallas.

New Leaders Texas hosted the fundraiser for Johnson that drew about 40 people. New Leaders Executive Director Kathleen Thompson said the event raised $2,645. Johnson faces one-term incumbent Republican Sarah Davis in November. If Johnson wins, she and El Paso’s Mary Gonzalez would become the first two openly LGBT women in the Texas Legislature.

Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs introduced Johnson, noting their similarities in age,  attending law school in Houston, working with their fathers, and both taking on incumbents, as Griggs did last year.

He said that Texas has Republican 2-1 majority in the state Legislature, but electing Johnson is a step toward changing that imbalance.

“In Texas, we can decide what we want to be and we can go be it,” Griggs said. “This is a moment to start to make that change, to start to make a difference.”

Johnson’s father, Jake Johnson, was a state representative in the 60s and worked on Barbara Jordan’s campaign. Jordan was the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate since 1883 and was the first black female from the South elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Johnson’s mother is former Civil District Judge Carolyn Marks Johnson.

“I am fortunate that both of my parents taught me the honor of public service,” Johnson told the crowd Tuesday. “Houston has this incredible history of making a difference and being diverse.”

While she did not touch on her sexuality, focusing on her two major campaign issues of education and healthcare, Johnson had her partner Sonya at her side Tuesday proudly talking about the campaign trail.

As a cancer survivor, Johnson expressed her desire to back healthcare funding for all Texans, saying affordable healthcare and education are areas where Texas can go from one of the worst states to one of the best.

Texas ranks 43rd in the U.S. for graduation rates, 45th for SAT scores, a fact that Johnson said she’s focusing on changing if elected by providing better funding to public education.

“I have vision to take us from worst to first,” she said. “If we go from worst to first, we can create a public education system that we can be proud of.”

More photos and video below.

—  Anna Waugh

Lesbian TX House candidate Ann Johnson to visit Dallas on Tuesday

Houston attorney and Democratic House candidate Ann Johnson will hold a fundraiser in Dallas on Tuesday while she’s in town for the North Texas Children’s Law Symposium.

Johnson, who focuses on child advocacy cases in her private practice, is among the presenters at the symposium and will lead a discussion on the decriminalization of child-trafficking victims, talking about the minor she represented in the 2010 case, In re. B.W., heard before the Texas Supreme Court.

Johnson is the Democratic candidate in Houston’s House District 134. She will face one-term incumbent Republican Sarah Davis in November.

New Leaders Texas is hosting a fundraiser for Johnson on Tuesday evening. The organization endorsed and funded Mary Gonzalez, but is now shifting its attention to Johnson after Gonzalez won her primary. Gonzalez is unopposed in November.

If Johnson wins, she and Gonzalez will be the first two LGBT women elected to the Texas House — and the only LGBT members of the Legislature.

“New Leaders Texas is dedicated to changing the face of Texas leadership,” said Brian Stansbury, the president of the board of New Leaders Texas. “Electing Ann Johnson will be an important step in achieving that goal. Ann will fight to make Texas a better place for all Texans, and we believe it is important to give Texans from across the state an opportunity to step up and support Ann in this election.”

The fundraiser is Tuesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Stoneleigh P restaurant, 2926 Maple Ave.

People who attend the event will be asked to donate $100 and hosts are expected to donate $250. A suggested minimum donation is $50. Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman is among those listed on the host committee.

While Equality Texas has not endorsed in the race yet, as both Johnson and Davis have expressed interest in working with the organization, Coleman said his support is personal, having met Johnson before.

For more information, email info@newleaderstexas.org or call 512-591-8683.

—  Anna Waugh

Victory Fund endorses out lesbian Ann Johnson in Texas House race in Houston

The Washington D.C.-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund announced 17 endorsements Tuesday including Houston’s Ann Johnson.

Johnson, who is the daughter of former state Rep. Jake Johnson, ran unopposed in the Democratic Primary in House District 134. She will face against one-term Republican incumbent Sarah Davis in November.

Johnson is a former prosecutor who handles child advocacy cases in a private practice, representing victims of bullying and harassment in public schools.

If Johnson wins in November, she will be the second lesbian voters send to the state House after Mary Gonzalez’s election in the Democratic Primary in May. Gonzalez doesn’t have Republican opponent in the general election.

Victory Fund spokesman Denis Dison said having two openly LGBT legislators join the Texas House would intensify the impact and change in dialogue among the conservative-controlled House.

“Ann’s deep experience as an assistant district attorney and legal advocate for kids makes her well-suited to serve in the Texas House,” he told Instant Tea. “She is carrying on her family’s impressive legacy of public service, and we are proud to support her campaign.”

Look for more about Gonzalez and Johnson in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  Anna Waugh