Ge­or­gia pri­mary

LGBT can­di­dates poised to make his­tory

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

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

Other Races

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)

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