No gay history:
Kyle Williams loses state Senate race in Democratic primary.
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.
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.
State Rep. Simone Bell and Kyle Williams greeted supporters Tuesday at the Georgia Equality election night watch party at Radial Café.