More Than 200 L.G.B.T. Candidates, Advocates Hope For A ‘Rainbow Wave’ In The Midterms
Written by ZenKC on October 5, 2018
The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates running for office this year is higher than ever. But there is a partisan split among the nominees.
The number nominated to run for Congress is four times higher than it was in 2010, a leading advocacy group said, spurred by greater social acceptance of sexual and gender minorities and a surge of liberal energy powered by opposition to the Trump administration.
This year, there are 21 openly L.G.B.T. people nominated for Congress and four for governor, all Democrats, according to the L.G.B.T.Q. Victory Fund, a nonpartisan group that supports and tracks gay and transgender political candidates.
Eight years ago, the first year the group started tracking candidates, there were only five openly L.G.B.T. people nominated for the U.S. House or Senate — again, all Democrats — and none for governor.
Annise Parker, the group’s president and a former mayor of Houston, said the numbers represented a potential “rainbow wave” that she hoped could “transform the U.S. Congress and our governors’ mansions come November.”
“It represents an evolution in American politics,” Ms. Parker said, “with voters choosing out L.G.B.T.Q. candidates as the solution to the divisiveness and dysfunction we see in Washington and in many of our state capitals.”
Overall, there were more than 430 openly L.G.B.T. people running for office at all levels of government at the start of this year’s primary season. Now that the primaries are over, at least 244 of them have advanced to a ballot in November, including some independents and candidates for nonpartisan positions, the Victory Fund said.
More L.G.B.T. women than men are running for Congress this year, the group said, including both of the L.G.B.T. people running for U.S. Senate — Representative Krysten Sinema of Arizona and Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
Four L.G.B.T. candidates, all Democrats, were nominated in governors’ races. For the first time, they collectively represent what the Victory Fund called “the full L.G.B.T. acronym”: Lupe Valdez, a lesbian, in Texas; Jared Polis, a gay man, in Colorado; Kate Brown, a bisexual woman, in Oregon; and Christine Hallquist, a transgender woman, in Vermont.
Many of these candidates treat their sexuality and gender identity as assets that complement their criticisms of the Trump administration or policy ideas on subjects like climate change, education or health care.
Ms. Brown, an incumbent, is the only openly L.G.B.T. person ever elected to be the governor of a state. Six members of the House of Representatives are out, and Ms. Baldwin is currently the only lesbian senator.
There are currently 576 openly L.G.B.T. elected officials at all levels of government in the United States, amounting to just 0.1 percent of elected positions in the country, the group said. The percentage of American adults identifying as L.G.B.T. rose to 4.5 percent in 2017 from 4.1 percent the year before, according to a Gallup poll released in May.
The Victory Fund found a partisan split among the candidates. Almost all of who ran this cycle were Democrats, with only 20 Republicans among the 430 or so L.G.B.T. candidates the group tracked at the start of the primaries. Seventeen of those Republicans will be on the ballot on November.
Ms. Parker said the partisan breakdown made the figures “thrilling but one-sided” and attributed the lopsided numbers to “anti-L.G.B.T.Q. policies pursued by the White House and in extreme-right state legislatures.” The split reflects 2016 polling data from the Pew Research Center, which found 82 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual voters identified with or leaned toward the Democratic Party.
John Scott, a gay former state representative in Connecticut who is trying to win back the seat he lost in 2016, blamed the small number of G.O.P. candidates on “pockets of ultra-conservative people in other parts of the country that set a tone for Republicans.”
Six of the 20 L.G.B.T. Republicans who ran for office this year were in Connecticut.
“They don’t want same-sex marriage or gay rights or anything like that, but that’s not what we’re seeing here in Connecticut,” he said in an interview. “I consider myself to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and I’d argue about 99 percent of the Republicans in Connecticut would say the same.”
In the 2016 election year, Republicans nominated three openly L.G.B.T. candidates for Congress — Paul Babeu in Arizona, Bob Evans in California and Clay Cope in Connecticut — but none were elected. The last time an openly gay Republican won a congressional race was 2004 when Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona was re-elected to his final term.
Change is taking place around us, but until we as voters go to the polls and vote, we can’t sit back and complain. Your voice counts so Hit ‘Em Where It Counts!