Naomi Gonzalez reflects on being gay-baited by Norma Chavez — but still doesn't come out

I’ve left phone messages and e-mails with Naomi Gonzalez’s campaign in the last few weeks trying to get an interview with the next representative for El Paso’s District 76 in the Texas House. If you’ll remember, Gonzalez was called a lesbian by incumbent Rep. Norma Chavez prior to their April runoff, which Gonzalez won.

Gonzalez has neither confirmed nor denied that she’s gay, so you can probably guess what my first question would be, and maybe that’s why she’d rather talk to The Texas Tribune. In the above video interview posted earlier today, the Tribune’s Brandi Grissom asks Gonzalez whether she thinks Chavez’s gay-baiting backfired, and what the response was like in El Paso. But Grissom never asks Gonzalez whether she is in fact a lesbian, and Gonzalez never says, unless you count the “three paychecks” comment in her first answer below. I’ve posted a transcript, as well as a little commentary, after the jump.

—  John Wright

Runoff wrap-up: Jenkins wins easily, Villarreal stuns Cortes, Gonzalez tops Chavez in El Paso

Will Naomi Gonzalez, shown flashing the victory sign last night, become the only openly LGBT legislator in Texas.
Will Naomi Gonzalez, shown flashing the victory sign last night, become the only openly LGBT legislator in Texas? (El Paso Times)

Attorney Clay Jenkins handily defeated former City Councilman Larry Duncan in the race for the Democratic nomination for Dallas County judge last night. Duncan was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, but Jenkins also had his share of LGBT backers. Jenkins will face Republican Wade Emmert in November as they vie to succeed openly gay incumbent Jim Foster.

The surprise of the night locally came in the Dallas County Precinct 5 constable race, where Beth Villarreal knocked off embattled incumbent Jaime Cortes. Precinct 5, which covers the city’s most heavily LGBT neighborhoods, once was represented by openly gay Constable Mike Dupree. Villarreal has a gay son and has enjoyed strong support in the LGBT community, partly due to allegations of gay-baiting against Cortes when he challenged Dupree in previous election cycles.

In El Paso, challenger Naomi Gonzalez defeated incumbent State Rep. Norma Chavez. Chavez, in an apparent act of desperation, publicly called Gonzalez a lesbian during the campaign and said she should come out. If Gonzalez does now come out, she would be the only openly LGBT legislator in Texas, one of 20 states that lack one. There is no Republican in the race.

And in Gainesville, Fla., openly gay City Commissioner Craig Lowe faces a recount before he can be declared mayor-elect, after he edged out his opponent by just 35 votes on Tuesday. Lowe, who endured vicious anti-gay attacks during the campaign, would become one of about 30 out mayors nationwide.

—  John Wright

Gonzalez leading Chavez in Texas House race

Back on April 4, John Wright pointed out here on Instant Tea the gay-baiting going on in the Democratic Primary runof race in District 76 between incumbent Rep. Norma Chavez and challenger Naomi Gonzalez, where Chavez decided to try and give herself an edge by declaring Gonzalez to be a lesbian.

Well, it looks like it didn’t work:  As of 11:30 tonight, the Texas Secretary of State’s Web site was reporting that with 30 of 37 precincts reporting, Gonzalez is ahead, 52.49 percent to 47.50 percent. I’m not positive about this, but I don’t think the Democratic nominee will face a Republican challenger in the general election; at least, I didn’t find any Republican candidates listed in that district on the Secretary of State Web site.

And as John pointed out earlier, Gonzalez never said she wasn’t a lesbian, so …… Maybe the Lone Star State will finally have an LGBT person in the Legislature again? Of course, Gonzalez hasn’t said she is a lesbian, either, so the position of “openly LGBT legislator” remains, at this time, empty.

—  admin