LGBT candidates poised to make history
The days are dwindling. After months and months of knocking on doors, making calls, attending events and raising money, the first major test of the local election year occurs on May 24 with the primaries.
All 56 seats in the state Senate and all 180 in the state House are up for grabs, along with a few judgeships and county commissioner posts. There are nine openly LGBT candidates running, and local and national LGBT groups have released their official endorsements for those and other races.
“Georgia Stonewall continues to be committed to supporting fair-minded Democrats and increasing our equality-driven representation in offices across the state,” said Tim Cairl, chair for Georgia Stonewall Democrats, in a statement.
Georgia Equality executive director Jeff Graham told Georgia Voice of their picks, “Georgia Equality is proud to support a large number of candidates in legislative, judicial and other races around the state. As our organizational capacity increases, we hope that we can provide even more endorsements in the future. We are especially interested in getting more involved in municipal races in the cities where we are doing work with local advocates. The extreme levels of gerrymandering that take place in Georgia make primary endorsements especially important because the vast majority of legislative races are actually decided in the primaries rather than the general election in November.”
Here are the races to watch and the endorsements from Georgia Equality and the Georgia Stonewall Democrats.
House District 54 District includes: Buckhead and West Midtown
The Lowdown: Openly gay candidate Bob Gibeling is unopposed in the primary election but faces a stiff challenge this November against incumbent Republican Rep. Beth Beskin. Georgia Equality endorsement: De-
clined an endorsement Georgia Stonewall Democrats endorsement: Declined an endorsement
House District 56
District includes: Southwest Atlanta, Downtown, and Midtown
The Lowdown: Marckeith DeJesus, a 37-year-old openly gay certified financial counselor, has a tough primary as he faces off against Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas, who’s looking for a third straight term in District 56 after two previous stints in the House.
Georgia Equality endorsement: Declined an endorsement Georgia Stonewall Democrats endorsement: Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas House District 58 District includes: Southwest Atlanta, Downtown, and Midtown The Lowdown: Openly queer state Rep. Park Cannon has no challengers in this year’s primary or general election and will get a chance to make a mark with her first full two-year term. Georgia Equality endorsement: Rep. Park Cannon Georgia Stonewall Democrats endorsement: Declined an endorsement *Cannon also picked up an endorsement from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
House District 59
District includes: East Point, Inman Park, Grant Park, Lakewood Heights, Little Five Points, Poncey-Highland and Reynoldstown
The Lowdown: There are no Republicans who qualified for the race, so it’s all down to the Democratic primary to decide who takes the seat, and it could be a close one as openly gay pastor Josh Noblitt takes on attorney David Dreyer and Janine Brown.
Georgia Equality endorsement: Josh Noblitt Georgia Stonewall Democrats endorsement: Josh Noblitt *Noblitt also picked up an endorsement from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
House District 60 District includes: Southeast Atlanta, Hapeville, parts of Clayton and DeKalb counties
The Lowdown: Lesbian state Rep. Keisha Waites is unopposed in the primary and is expected to land a third straight term in office when she faces off against Republican truck driver Ralph Nobles in November.
Georgia Equality endorsement: Keisha Waites Georgia Stonewall Democrats endorsement: Declined an endorsement
House District 62
District includes: Portions of College Park, Douglasville, East Point, and portions of Fulton and DeKalb counties
The Lowdown: Two openly gay candidates and six overall duke it out to replace retiring state Rep. LaDawn Jones. And there is no Republican opposition in November so whoever wins in May takes the seat. Openly gay community activist and flight attendant Rafer Johnson goes up against lesbian family law attorney Valerie Vie, attorney William Boddie, Jr. public servant Aaron Johnson, entrepreneur Joshua Butler and businessman Larry Perkins, Jr. Georgia Equality endorsement: Rafer Johnson Georgia Stonewall Democrats endorsement: Declined an endorsement but may endorse if/when the race goes to a runoff *Johnson also picked up an endorsement from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
House District 85
District includes: Avondale Estates, Clarkston, Decatur and parts of Belvedere Park and Candler-McAfee
The Lowdown: Lesbian state Rep. Karla Drenner faces no opposition in the primary or general elections and will be elected to her eighth term in office come November. Georgia Equality endorsement: Karla Drenner Georgia Stonewall Democrats endorsement: Declined an endorsement
Fulton County State Court Judge Jane Morrison has no opposition and will serve another term, while her wife, Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner, will do the same. Both picked up endorsements from Georgia Equality. Openly gay family law attorney and Fulton County magistrate Gary Alembik is one of three candidates seeking to replace retiring Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob. Alembik picked up Georgia Equality’s endorsement.
State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) and state Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) are unopposed in their primary and general elections and will be reelected in November. (File photo)