ELECTION 2010: Democrats narrowly hang on in Dallas County; 2 of 3 gay candidates win

District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons re-elected; Tonya Parker becomes first black LGBT person elected in county; Garcia tops Mayfield

MORE ELECTION COVERAGE:
LGBT groups react to big losses in House, Senate
Record 106 gay candidates elected in 2010

Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, center, watches election results come in with other Democratic elected officials on Tuesday night at Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park. Also pictured are, clockwise from front left, Tax Assessor John Ames, Chief Deputy District Clerk Virginia Etherly, Fitzsimmons’ mother and father, County Treasurer Joe Wells, Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman and County Clerk John Warren. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Staving off a Republican tsunami that inundated much of the rest of the state and nation, Democrats narrowly held on to power in Dallas County on Tuesday night.

Two of three openly gay candidates on the ballot locally, District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons and judicial candidate Tonya Parker, won their races as part of the closer-than-expected countywide Democratic victory. A third openly gay candidate, Democrat Pete Schulte, was defeated by Republican incumbent Dan Branch in Texas House District 108.

Parker, who defeated Mike Lee for the 116th Judicial District seat, is the first openly LGBT person ever elected judge in Dallas County. She will also become the first openly LGBT African-American elected official in the county’s history.

Meanwhile, Democrats also managed to seize a majority on the Dallas County Commissioners Court for the first time in three decades. Democrat Clay Jenkins defeated Republican Wade Emmert in the race to replace openly gay incumbent Jim Foster, who chairs the court and was defeated by Jenkins in the Democratic primary. And longtime LGBT ally Dr. Elba Garcia, a former city councilwoman, toppled anti-gay incumbent Ken Mayfield for the District 4 seat.

The victories made Dallas County one of the lone bright spots for Democrats in Texas, as Republicans swept statewide races and significantly increased their majority in the Texas House.

At the top of the statewide ballot, LGBT ally and Democrat Bill White was soundly defeated by anti-gay Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Perry.

In Dallas County state legislative races, Democratic incumbent State Reps. Carol Kent, Kirk England, Allen Vaught and Robert Miklos were all trailing their Republican challengers. And gay-friendly Democratic challenger Loretta Haldenwang was trailing incumbent Republican State Rep. Linda Harper-Brown.

In Tarrant County, Democratic incumbent and LGBT ally Lon Burnam was on his way to an easy win in his campaign for an eighth term representing District 90 in the Texas Legislature. However, two other Democratic lawmakers considered to be friends of — or at least, friendly toward — the LGBT community were losing their re-election bids. Paula Pierson, first elected to represent District 93 in 2006, was trailing Republican Barbara Nash. And in District 96, incumbent Democrat Chris Turner was trailing Republican Bill Zedler.

Nationally, Republicans took control of the U.S. House and picked up seats in the Senate, likely ruling out passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act for the next two years.

In Dallas, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a staunch LGBT ally, easily held off Republican challenger Stephen Broden. The LGBT community also picked up another openly gay member of Congress, as Providence Mayor David Cicilline won his U.S. House race in Rhode Island.

For complete election coverage, see Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  John Wright

Bill White’s big gay breakfast in Austin

Looks like the gays in Austin hosted a breakfast for Bill White, the Democratic candidate for Texas governor, on Wednesday morning. Above is a screen shot of the invitation from White’s campaign website.

If you weren’t invited, don’t feel bad, because neither was Instant Tea. But we’ll post pics or video if any turn up. And just because you missed the breakfast doesn’t mean you can’t help out, according to Equality Texas on Twitter. Make a contribution to White’s campaign on the site.

It’s nice to see White reaching out to the gays, and maybe he’ll duplicate this breakfast in other cities around the state. We understand the concerns about anti-gay Republican Gov. Rick Perry using this stuff against him, but White is trailing in the race by 7 points, according to the latest poll. What does he really have to lose?

UPDATE: We found some pics and they are here.

—  John Wright

Brittany Novotny fires back at Sally Kern

Brittany Novotny, the transgender candidate who’s challenging anti-gay Republican State Rep. Sally Kern in Oklahoma, has issued a statement responding to an attack last week from a Kern supporter who called Novotny a “confused it.” In the statement titled “How do we move Oklahoma forward?” Novotny notes that Kern issued a statement Sunday attempting to distance herself from the attack:

In a statement released today, Rep. Kern claims that she has “repeatedly asked [her] supporters not to use any degrading or insulting comments toward [me].” Unfortunately, the evidence indicates this is not the case. In a speech on August 7, 2010, Rep. Kern told supporters:

“And this year, in 2010 election, I have a very interesting race, I have an individual who was born a man, has had a sex change operation, and now considers themselves to be a woman. So, if you live in my district or know anyone who does, please get the word out. Because if I say anything about it, it’s gonna look like I’m smearing, and I’m not, it’s just a fact. And ‘they’ talk about it themselves. (Emphasis added).”

Does this rhetoric sound like someone asking her supporters not to use any degrading comments? Does this rhetoric sound like someone who is trying to keep the campaign about the issues facing Oklahomans?

When I announced my intention to run for this seat, Rep. Kern said she planned to keep this campaign focused on issues. As you are now aware, she has failed to keep her word on that count.

Novotny also posted the above video ad, accusing Kern of ignoring real issues to promote “her narrow social agenda” and “her own extremist interpretation of the Bible.” Ya think?

—  David Taffet