FINAL UPDATE FOR TONIGHT: While the Texas LGBT community saw most of our candidates end up on the losing end of Election Night totals, there were some big wins, too, among the openly-LGBT candidates and LGBT ally candidates.
At the top of the ballot, ally Beto O’Rourke came up just short in his epic bid to unseat incumbent Republican — and notoriously anti-gay U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. And three LGBT candidates for U.S. House seats — Lorie Burch, Gina Ortiz Jones and Eric Holguin — also came up short, although both Burch and Jones pulled in well over 40 percent of the vote in their races.
A bright spot in Congressional races came in District 32, where ally Collin Allred easily defeated incumbent Republican Pete Sessions.
Although Lupe Valdez lost the governor’s race to incumbent Republican Greg Abbott, the fact that a Latina lesbian Democrat pulled in more than 40 percent of the vote in a statewide race in Texas is something to be proud of.
Gay Texas Supreme Court candidate Steve Kirkland lost, but earned more than 45 percent of the vote in that race. In Senate District 7, gay Texas Senate candidate David Romero pulled just under 40 percent of the vote, while in Senate District 8, gay candidate Mark Phariss came within 2 percentage points of defeating Angela Paxton.
Of the seven LGBT candidates running for seats in the Texas House of Representatives, five were lesbians, and at least four of the five lesbian candidates appear to be headed to Austin. Celia Israel in District 50, Jessica Gonzalez in District 104 and Mary Gonzalez in District 75 all won their Democratic primary races and were unopposed in the general election. With more than half of the precincts counted in District 115, Julie Johnson had a more than comfortable 56-44 lead over Republican incumbent Matt Rinaldi — an avid supporter of anti-transgender bathroom bills in the last session of the Texas Legislature. And in District 45, Erin Zweiner held a narrow lead over Republican Ken Strange, but that was with only eight of the 62 precincts in the district counted.
In District 71, gay candidate Sam Hatton lost by a wide margin to incumbent Republican Stan Lambert. But in District 92, with some 650 of the 705 precincts counted, transgender candidate Finnegan Jones had pulled in 44 percent of the votes, compared to Republican incumbent — and notorious homophobe — Tony Tinderholt’s 52 percent — an amazing feat for a transgender candidate in a traditionally red district in Texas.
In Dallas County, Judge Tonya Parker was unopposed in her re-election bid for the 116th District Court, and incumbent Precinct 5-1 Justice of the Peace Sara Martinez won the Democratic Primary and was unopposed in the general election. Two LGBT candidates in the race to fill Dwaine Caraway’s unexpired term on the Dallas City Council — Brandon Vance and Joli Robinson — did not advance to the runoff.
In Angelina County in Southeast Texas, Justin Mosely was running for a justice of the peace seat, but I have not yet found results for that race. Shannon Baldwin was elected Harris County Criminal Court judge.
The Victory Fund had endorsed 225 LGBT candidates at the federal, state and local levels (including 16 in Texas). As of 11:40 p.m., the Victory Fund was reporting that seven of the 14 federal level candidates, 60 of the 133 state level candidates and 19 of the 79 local level candidates the organization endorsed had already been declared winners in their races.
Those winners include Jared Polis in Colorado, the first openly-gay man elected governor of a U.S. state, and Sharice Davids in Kansas, the first lesbian elected from Kansas to Congress and one of the first Native American women elected to Congress (a second Native American woman from a different state also had a chance to be elected to Congress tonight).
UPDATE: In the race to fill the the District 4 seat on the Dallas City Council — left vacant earlier this year when Dwaine Caraway resigned and pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges — will go to a runoff between former Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold and activist Keyaira Saunders. There were two openly-LGBT candidates in the race — Brandon Vance and Joli Angel Robinson.
The runoff will be in December. The winner will serve the remaining six months of Caraway’s term, then face re-election in May.
UPDATE, 9:46 p.m.: At this moment, the Victory Fund is reporting that, at this point, 50 of the 225 candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund have won their races, and only five — unfortunately including Texas gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez — have definitely lost. Check it out here.
UPDATE: MSNBC is projecting that Democrats will take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, while Republicans retain control of the Senate.
UPDATE: MSNBC has called the Texas House District 32 for Democrat Collin Allred over Republican incumbent Pete Sessions. Allred is an ally of the LGBT community,
UPDATE: In heartbreaking news, MSNBC has called the Texas Senate race for Ted Cruz.
UPDATE: Sharice Davids has defeated Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, making her the first lesbian elected to Congress from Kansas and the first Native American woman elected to Congress! (A second Native American woman may win tonight too.)
UPDATE 8:37 p.m.:MSNBC just called the Colorado governor’s race for Jared Polis. The win makes him the first openly-gay man elected governor of any U.S. state.
According to Victory Fund – Jennifer Webb has won her race for Florida House. Betsy Driver has won her race for mayor of Flemington, N.J. Malcolm Kenyatta and Brian Sims have won their races for the Pennsylvania House. Everyone is calling the race for Texas governor for Greg Abbott over Lupe Valdez. Tippi McCullough has won her race for the Arkansas House. Alex Valdez has won his race for the Colorado House. Ryan Fecteau has won his race for the Maine House. Jon Hoadley and Tim Sneller have won their races for the Michigan House.
In Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin has won re-election to the U.S. Senate.
UPDATE: In the very very very early returns here in Texas, Beto O’Rourke has a narrow lead over Ted Cruz.So far, two of Victory Fund’s 14 endorsed candidates in federal races have won; 22 of its 133 endorsed candidates in state races, and nine of its 78 endorsed candidates in local races have won.
UPDATE, 7:56 p.m.: David Taffet, down at the Dallas County Democratic watch party tells me that Julie Johnson is ahead, 56-44, in the race for Texas House District 115.
UPDATE: 8:08 p.m.: According to the Victory Fund, which endorses LGBT candidates: David Cicilline has won his race for the U.S. House in Rhode Island. Carlos Guillermo Smith has won his race for the Florida House. Jack Lewis has won his race for the Massachusetts House. Donna Nesselbush and Samuel Bell have won their races for the Rhode Island state Senate. Daneya Esgar has won her race for the Colorado House.UPDATE: Here’s a piece of news that warms my heart. David Taffet just pointed out to me that in Kentucky, Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr. has defeated Republican incumbent Kim Davis in the race for Rowan County Clerk. In case you don’t remember, Kim Davis was the county clerk who became a right-wing heroine when she went to jail (for a very brief time) for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell marriage equality ruling.
In Florida, Shevrin Jones has won a seat in the Florida House. In North Carolina Amanda Maris has won a district court judge seat, and Mark Kleinschmidt was won superior court clerk in Orange County. In Massachusetts, Jack Lewis has won a seat in the state House.
ORIGINAL POST: Dallas Voice Senior Staff Writer David Taffet will be at the Dallas County Democrats’ Election Night Watch Party, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown — after a stop by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s party in the Design District — and other staff members might be making stops at other locations, like the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas watch party at The Round-Up Saloon.And among the 78 local races they are following, they are reporting three wins: James Aguilar for the San Leandra Unified School District governing board; Miles Prince for San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, and Darlene Martinez for constable of a downtown justice court in Arizona.
UPDATE: At 6:30 p.m., CST, among the 135 state/statewide races Victory Fund is following, they are already reporting seven wins: Park Cannon and Renitta Shannon in the Georgia House of Representatives; Mary Washington in the Maryland state Senate; Matthew Moonen in the Maine House of Representatives; Jessica Gonzalez and Celia Israel in the Texas House of Representatives; and Joshua Tenoria for lieutenant governor of Guam. Mary Gonzalez has also won her state House race in Texas, although she is not included in Victory Fund’s count.UPDATE: More updates from the Victory Fund — In Florida, Lauren Baer has lost a U.S. House seat while Teri Johnston won the mayor’s race in Key West. Sarah Peake has won a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Lasia Casil has lost that race for the Guam Legislature.
Polls close in the 2018 midterm elections at 7 p.m. here in Texas — except in Harris County, where a judge has ordered polls at nine locations to remain open an extra hour because those locations failed to open on time at 7 a.m. this morning.
As for me, I will be sitting here at my computer, watching returns from around North Texas — and the state, and the country — compiling information and posting updates on how our LGBT candidates and ally candidates are faring.
There are at least 20 openly-LGBT candidates on ballots in Texas, and the LGBT Victory Fund will be watching more than 225 races nationwide featuring LGBT candidates.
So hang on to your hats folks. This could be a wild ride. And you can watch this post for updates throughout the night.
— Tammye Nash