In a surprisingly lopsided vote, a Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsement committee recommended Saturday afternoon that the group throw its weight behind Larry Duncan in the March 2 primary for county judge.
Meeting for a third straight day at Resource Center Dallas, the committee voted 29-3-2 to recommend endorsing Duncan, a longtime straight ally of the LGBT community who currently serves as president of Dallas County Schools. Highland Park attorney Clay Jenkins received three votes, while incumbent Jim Foster, who’s openly gay and was endorsed by Stonewall in 2006, received only two.
All three Democratic candidates for county judge interviewed in front of the endorsement committee prior to Saturday’s vote, and the recommendation to endorse Duncan is expected to be ratified by Stonewall’s general membership Tuesday.
“The Stonewall Democrats are known for the rigorousness of their screening process and the effort they put into campaigns,” Duncan said after the vote. “I’m extremely honored by the resounding numerical support.”
The endorsement committee also made recommendations in dozens of other local, state and federal races, with 20 hours worth of scheduled candidate interviews continuing into the evening Saturday.
“More than 100 candidates requested our endorsement this year, which is not just a record, but an out-of-the-water record for this organization,” said Omar Narvaez, political director for Stonewall.
About 40-50 people crowded into RCD’s Rainbow Room at any given time during the three-day meeting.
Also Saturday, the committee recommended endorsing former Houston Mayor Bill White in the Democratic primary for governor. Openly gay Houston City Councilwoman Sue Lovell interviewed as a surrogate for White, who’s scheduled to be keynote speaker at Tuesday’s Stonewall meeting.
“Bill has an absolute commitment to our rights,” Lovell told the committee. “We could not have a better person at the top of our ticket.”
Other statewide candidates who received endorsement recommendations included Hank Gilbert, who’s running for agriculture commissioner and interviewed on Friday night. Ronnie Earle, who’s running for lieutenant governor, was scheduled to interview Saturday night.
In other races, the committee unanimously recommended endorsing incumbent State Rep. Terri Hodge, who faces a strong challenge from Eric Johnson in the District 100 primary. Narvaez said Johnson initially indicated he would compete for the endorsement but called to cancel his interview shortly before the meetings began.
The committee also voted to recommend endorsing incumbent State Reps. Allen Vaught and Carol Kent in Districts 107 and 102, respectively. In District 108, which includes much of Oak Lawn, Peter Schulte received the endorsement committee’s recommendation. Schulte, the plaintiff’s attorney in Dallas’ high-profile same-sex divorce case, is unopposed in the primary and will face Republican incumbent Dan Branch in November. Tena Callahan, the judge who issued a historic ruling in the same-sex divorce case in October, also received an endorsement recommendation Saturday, as well as a standing ovation from those in attendance.
Others getting a warm reception included former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Elba Garcia, who’s running for the District 4 seat on the Dallas County Commissioners Court. Garcia beat out Rose Renfroe for the endorsement recommendation as they vie to challenge incumbent Republican Kenneth Mayfield in November.
Openly gay candidates who received endorsement recommendations were incumbent Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons and judicial candidate Tonya Parker. Another openly gay judicial candidate, John Loza, awaited a vote on the endorsement in his race Saturday night.
Stay tuned to Instant Tea for a full list of the committee’s endorsement recommendations.