No gay his­tory:

Kyle Wil­liams loses state Se­nate race in Demo­cratic pri­mary.

GA Voice - - Front Page - By PATRICK SAUN­DERS psaun­ders@the­gavoice.com Dyana Bagby con­trib­uted.

LGBT his­tory was not made in Ge­or­gia this week. Kyle Wil­liams, who was seek­ing to be­come the first openly gay man elected to the Ge­or­gia Se­nate and the Gen­eral As­sem­bly con­ceded the Demo­cratic pri­mary for state Se­nate District 42 to Elena Par­ent late Tues­day, bring­ing an end to what turned into a bit­ter cam­paign in its fi­nal days.

Par­ent will now move on to the gen­eral elec­tion in Novem­ber and face Repub­li­can Greg Wil­liams. Be­cause District 42 is con­sid­ered one of the most pro­gres­sive districts in the state, Par­ent is ex­pected to de­feat Wil­liams. Ac­cord­ing to un­of­fi­cial re­sults from the Ge­or­gia Sec­re­tary of State’s web­site at press time, Par­ent had 65 per­cent with 3,527 votes and Wil­liams had 35 per­cent with 1,844 votes.

“My friends, it ap­pears we have come up short,” Wil­liams said in a state­ment re­leased shortly be­fore mid­night on Tues­day. “We have worked hard, we have worked true. We ran a cam­paign that you can be proud of. Thank you to all of my friends who be­lieved in me and this cam­paign from the very be­gin­ning and worked for the fu­ture of District 42. Po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sions and de­bate are es­sen­tial to a vi­brant com­mu­nity, and I con­grat­u­late Elena Par­ent on a hard-fought cam­paign. This is my home and I look for­ward to work­ing with all of you to con­tinue to make our com­mu­nity a bet­ter place.”

Par­ent, who served as a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive from 2010 to 2012, re­leased a state­ment shortly af­ter Wil­liams con­ceded the race and promised to work with the LGBT com­mu­nity.

“Kyle Wil­liams is my friend. He has a bright fu­ture ahead of him in Ge­or­gia pol­i­tics. We have a lot of work ahead of us and we need his help. I am com­mit­ted to work­ing with Kyle and the en­tire LGBT com­mu­nity to pro­mote equal­ity, end dis­crim­i­na­tion, and to fight for our pro­gres­sive val­ues,” said Par­ent.

CON­TRO­VER­SIAL CAM­PAIGN

Wil­liams’ sup­port­ers hung around un­til the “bit­ter end” at Uni­ver­sal Joint in Oakhurst Vil­lage, where his team—in­clud­ing cam­paign man­ager Beth Cope, di­rec­tor of field op­er­a­tions Tim Cairl and Vic­tory Fund deputy po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor Ian Su­gar—hud­dled around a ta­ble check­ing elec­tion re­sults all night, be­fore fi­nally agree­ing to con­cede just be­fore mid­night.

It was a highly con­tro­ver­sial fight for the state Se­nate seat in District 42, which cov­ers De­catur, Avon­dale Es­tates and por­tions of DeKalb County in­clud­ing neigh­bor­hoods from Bu­ford High­way to DeKalb Av­enue such as North Druid Hills, Morn­ing­side, Druid Hills, East Lake, Kirk­wood and Edge­wood.

The drama be­gan early on in the race with a Par­ent cam­paign push poll that tried to link Wil­liams to a Repub­li­can group. Then Wil­liams ac­cused Par­ent of at­tend­ing a Tea Party con­fer­ence while she was a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

Wil­iams later sent out a mailer about Par­ent’s vote to make cuts to the HOPE schol­ar­ship when she was a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, ty­ing her to Gov. Nathan Deal and the Tea Party.

With a week to go be­fore the pri­mary elec­tion day, the Par­ent cam­paign got for­mer Gov. Roy Barnes to is­sue a robo­call which ac­cused Wil­liams of us­ing “Karl Rove-style dirty tricks” with the Nathan Deal mailer. Then Par­ent’s cam­paign sent out a mailer at­tempt­ing to link Wil­liams with Mitt Rom­ney, say­ing both were en­dorsed by the same Repub­li­can or­ga­ni­za­tion. That was in­cor­rect, though, be­cause the na­tional gay Log Cabin Repub­li­cans en­dorsed Rom­ney, and it was the lo­cal Ge­or­gia Log Cabin Repub­li­cans who en­dorsed Wil­liams dur­ing his 2009 run for De­catur City Com­mis­sion.

The Par­ent cam­paign also came out with a Sarah Palin mailer the weekend be­fore the elec­tion at­tack­ing Wil­liams for ac­cept­ing the LCR en­dorse­ment and a robo­call from a group call­ing it­self DeKalb Cit­i­zens for Elena went out the day be­fore the elec­tion that said Par­ent was the only can­di­date who knew how to raise a fam­ily, was a “straight shooter” and would up­hold the state’s val­ues. Par­ent de­nied the robo­call came from any­one in her cam­paign but Ge­or­gia Equal­ity’s lead­er­ship de­nounced the call and said the call was proof Par­ent was us­ing anti-gay tac­tics to win.

“We worked un­til the bit­ter end. We worked to iden­tify our vot­ers, get our vot­ers out. I’m proud of the cam­paign. We ran a hell of a cam­paign that was based on what this district needs, what this district de­serves and the is­sues that face this district. I’m proud of it. I’m at peace,” Wil­liams told GA Voice.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing we can’t have a con­ver­sa­tion on the is­sues. The district de­serves bet­ter than that. The vot­ers de­serve bet­ter than that. Pro­gres­sives, lib­er­als, the LGBT com­mu­nity de­serves bet­ter than that. This is not the cam­paign that we would have run, this is not the cam­paign that we wanted to have to re­spond to, but we met it and we re­sponded to it and I am OK and proud of what we did,” he added while wait­ing for re­turns to come in.

STATE REP. BELL COASTS TO VIC­TORY

State Rep. Si­mone Bell cruised to vic­tory in her Demo­cratic pri­mary bat­tle against Erica Long for State House District 58. She won with 63 per­cent, or 2,255 votes, to Long’s 1,312 votes, or 37 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to un­of­fi­cial re­sults from the Sec­re­tary of State.

There was a bit of con­tro­versy in this race as well. Shortly be­fore Sine Die this ses­sion, Bell got into a spat on the House floor with Ralph Long, her op­po­nent in the 2012 gen­eral elec­tion. Bell claimed Long threat­ened that he would run against her again if she did not back out of sup­port­ing a Ful­ton County Com­mis­sion can­di­date he was plan­ning on run­ning against.

Bell said she would not back down and on the last day of qual­i­fy­ing, in­stead of Mr. Long pay­ing the $400 qual­i­fy­ing fee to run for the state leg­is­la­ture, his wife, Erica Long, signed up to chal­lenge Bell. Sup­port­ers of Bell said this was noth­ing but a “per­sonal vendetta” by Mr. Long against her, but Mrs. Long told GA Voice she has al­ways wanted to run for po­lit­i­cal of­fice and this year was the right time to do so.

“We worked hard as a team as we al­ways do,” Bell told GA Voice as she waited for re­sults at the Ge­or­gia Equal­ity elec­tion night watch party at Ra­dial Cafe. “I think my record at the Capi­tol stands on its own. I’ve got a lot more work I want to do. I love my job, I’m good at it, and I want to keep it.”

Bell, who be­came the first African-Amer­i­can les­bian elected to a state leg­is­la­ture in 2009, faces no Repub­li­can op­po­nent in Novem­ber.

FUL­TON COUNTY COM­MIS­SION RACE

The Ge­or­gia Stonewall Democrats en­dorsed many of the same can­di­dates as Ge­or­gia Equal­ity but the two groups split on sup­port for Robb Pitts and John Eaves for Ful­ton County Com­mis­sion chair­per­son. Eaves eked out a vic­tory over Pitts with 50.39 per­cent of the vote.

Les­bian Joan Garner was eas­ily re­elected to Ful­ton’s District 4 seat.

(Photo by Patrick Saun­ders)

State Rep. Si­mone Bell and Kyle Wil­liams greeted sup­port­ers Tues­day at the Ge­or­gia Equal­ity elec­tion night watch party at Ra­dial Café.

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