Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorses record 111 LGBT candidates this year, says 70 percent won their races for public office
Although voters passed anti-gay amendments in four states on Election Day, they also voted to send dozens of openly gay and lesbian candidates across the country into public office.
The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorses and financially supports openly LGBT candidates at all levels of government. Spokesman Denis Dison said Wednesday, Nov. 5, that the organization had endorsed a record 111 candidates in this election, and that 70 percent of them won their elections.
Victory Fund President Chuck Wolfe said the 2008 balloting was "a watershed election. Our government became more representative and our democracy became stronger."
One of the biggest victories, he said, was the re-election of Latina lesbian Sheriff Lupe Valdez in Dallas County (see related story on Page 6).
Other Victory Fund-endorsed candidates who won their races in Texas were Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg and 215th District Court Judge Steve Kirkland.
The Victory Fund had also endorsed Brian Thompson for the Texas House of Representatives and Glen Maxey for Travis County tax assessor/collector. But both lost in the primaries. Andres Periera also lost his bid for judge in the 190th Civil District Court.
Two gay candidates were on the ballot in Denton on Tuesday, although neither were endorsed by the Victory Fund. John McClelland lost his bid to unseat Republican incumbent Myra Crownover in Texas House District 64. Lesbian Edra Bogle was also unsuccessful in her run for the Texas State Board of Education in District 14 against Republican incumbent Gail Lowe.
Another big win for Victory Fund candidates was in Colorado where Jared Polis became the first openly gay man elected as a nonincumbent to the U.S. Congress. He joins U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Barney Frank of Massachusetts as the only openly gay members of the U.S. House.
Gay State Rep. Al McAffrey was re-elected to the Oklahoma Legislature. Kathy Webb won her state House race in Arkansas, while Alice Lightle was elected to the bench in Little Rock district court.
In Oregon, bisexual Kate Brown became the country’s first openly LGBT secretary of state and the second-highest-ranking official in the state. Jason Bartlett, only the second openly gay African-American state legislator in the nation, was re-elected Tuesday after coming out as a gay man during the last legislative session.
Thomas Robichaux and Seth Bloom became the first openly gay men elected to public office in Louisiana. They were both elected to the Orleans Parish School Board in an October primary.
John Perez became the first openly gay person of color elected to the California Assembly, and gay challenger Kevin Becker unseated an anti-gay incumbent for a place on the Hillsborough County Commission in Florida. His win made him the first openly gay man elected in the county.
Rebecca Kaplan won on Tuesday to become the first out lesbian on the Oakland, Calif. City Council.
There were some significant disappointments, though, for LGBT candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund. On of the biggest came in South Carolina where lesbian Democrat Linda Ketner lost her big to unseat Republican incumbent Henry Brown in U.S. House District 1 by less than 14,000 votes.
In Oklahoma, Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth, partner of Dallas real estate agent Worth Ross, was narrowly defeated in a state-wide race. Roth, who had been appointed to the state commission, was the target of last-minute attack ads and mailers claiming he would "push a homosexual agenda" if he were sent back to his seat on the commission regulating the state’s energy industry.
Michigan State House candidate Garnet Lewis was subjected to anti-gay print and radio attack ads during the final weeks of her campaign, and lost her election.
For a complete list of the Victory Fund’s endorsed candidates and the outcome of their races, go online to VictoryFund.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 7, 2008.