By John Wright

11 candidates backed by LGBT group win; Democratic turnout more than double Republican showing

JOHN WRIGHT/Dallas Voice Voters lined up to cast their ballots at precincts across North Texas in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, while lines were virtually non-existent on the Republican side in many locations.

Only two of 24 candidates endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas lost their primary races on Tuesday, March 4.

Eleven candidates endorsed by Stonewall, North Texas’ largest LGBT political group, won their primaries outright, while another 10 were uncontested and one advanced to a runoff April 8.

"It was a good night," said Jesse Garcia, president of Stonewall Democrats. "Across the board, I’m very pleased. It’s great to see LGBT-friendly Democrats getting a step closer."

The two Stonewall-endorsed candidates who lost were Art Hall for railroad commissioner and Heath Harris for Criminal District Court No. 3.

Diana Lackey advanced to a runoff for Dallas County Tax Assessor-Collector and will face John Ames. Garcia said after losing despite an endorsement from Stonewall in 2004, Lackey has stuck with the group and become a member.

"We love Diana," he said. "We want to finish what we started with Diana Lackey."

Meanwhile, three of six openly gay candidates statewide who were endorsed by the Washington, D.C.-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund won their races, according to spokesman Denis Dison. One candidate endorsed by the Victory Fund advanced to a runoff, while the other two lost.

The victorious Victory Fund-endorsed candidates were Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, and judicial candidates Steve Kirkland and Andres Pereira in Harris County. Rosemary Lehmberg was the leading vote-getter in the Travis County district attorney’s race, with 35 percent, and she’ll be in a runoff for the Democratic nomination.

Former state Rep. Glenn Maxey, who was Texas’ first openly gay legislator, lost his primary race for Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector. State House candidate Brian Thompson, who was vying to become the only openly gay member of the Legislature, also lost.

Maxey and Thompson may have fallen victim to "Obamamania," as they both faced African-American candidates.

"Brian Thompson losing was a heartbreaker," Dison said. "The Victory Fund thinks it’s important to have at least one out legislator in every state. Alabama has one, and Texas doesn’t, and I think a lot of people are kind of scratching their heads over that."

Garcia and Randall Terrell, political director for Equality Texas, also said they were pleased with the results of an effort to push two resolutions at Democratic precinct caucuses.

Equality Texas, the statewide gay rights group, is hoping to get the resolutions added to the state Democratic Party’s platform. One would encourage passage of legislation to protect school children from bullying and harassment. The other would encourage passage of legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment housing, insurance, education and public accommodations. Terrell said the resolutions passed at several dozen precinct caucuses statewide and now will proceed to senatorial conventions.

Garcia said Stonewall wants to hear from members who were successful in getting the resolutions passed. He also said the group is compiling a list of LGBT voters who were elected delegates.

Interest in this year’s primaries has pushed Stonewall’s membership to nearly 400 Garcia said. He also noted that 2.8 million Democrats cast ballots statewide, versus only 1.3 million Republicans.

"We’re already thinking about November," he said. "This state may be red, but it’s going to be purple by the time we’re done with it."


This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 7, 2008
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