LGBT tri­umphs: two gov­er­nor­ships, nine seats in Congress

Porterville Recorder - - RECORD - By DAVID CRARY

On the East Coast, West Coast and in heart­land states be­tween them, LGBT can­di­dates scored a raft of no­table midterm elec­tion vic­to­ries — win­ning two gov­er­nor­ships, at least nine seats in Congress, and their first-ever leg­isla­tive seats in In­di­ana, Kansas and Ne­braska.

The head of the LGBTQ Vic­tory Fund, which re­cruits and as­sists LGBT can­di­dates, said many of the win­ners in Tues­day's elec­tions were mo­ti­vated by con­cerns over the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion's roll­back of pro­tec­tions for trans­gen­der peo­ple.

"We've worked hard to achieve the rights we have to­day," said the fund's CEO, for­mer Hous­ton Mayor An­nise Parker. "But we re­al­ize we're still in a vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion in many places."

From Parker's per­spec­tive, the high­lights were many. In Colorado, U.S. Rep. Jared Po­lis be­came the first openly gay man elected as a gov­er­nor of any state. In Wis­con­sin, Tammy Bald­win — who in 2012 be­came the first openly gay per­son to win a U.S. Se­nate seat — eas­ily won re-elec­tion de­spite be­ing tar­geted by out­side con­ser­va­tive groups that spent mil­lions at­tack­ing her.

In races for the U.S. house, a record eight LGBT can­di­dates won seats for the Democrats. Four in­cum­bents— Mark Takano of Cal­i­for­nia, Sean Pa­trick Mal­oney of New York, David Ci­cilline of Rhode Is­land and Mark Po­can of Wis­con­sin — will be joined in Jan­uary by new­com­ers Katie Hill of Cal­i­for­nia, Sharice Davids of Kansas, Angie Craig of Min­nesota and Chris Pap­pas of New Hamp­shire.

For two other LGBT can­di­dates, their races were too close to call — U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema's bid for a U.S. Se­nate seat in Ari­zona and Gina Or­tiz Jones' race for a U.S. House seat in Texas.

Hill, Davids and Craig were among a batch of Demo­cratic win­ners who flipped con­trol of Gop-held House seats, over­com­ing ini­tial skep­ti­cism that LGBT can­di­dates were not best-suited for that chal­lenge.

"We saw LGBTQ can­di­dates talk openly about their lives to a de­gree unseen in past elec­tions — and it res­onated with vot­ers," Parker said.

In Min­nesota, Craig fea­tured her wife and their sons in TV ads en route to win­ning a re­match against GOP Rep. Ja­son Lewis in the Twin Cities' sub­ur­ban 2nd Dis­trict.

"What I say is my wife and I have four sons, just like any other politi­cian would," Craig said dur­ing the cam­paign. "It'd be cool to be the first openly gay mem­ber of Congress from Min­nesota, but that's not why I'm run­ning."

In Kansas' 3rd Dis­trict, near Kansas City, Davids un­seated four-term GOP in­cum­bent Kevin Yoder. Be­ing les­bian was only one as­pect of an eye-catch­ing bi­og­ra­phy — she's also Na­tive Amer­i­can, a lawyer, a for­mer White House fel­low, and a past com­peti­tor in mixed mar­tial arts.

"From the be­gin­ning, this cam­paign has been built on bring­ing new lead­ers to the ta­ble, and new voices to the ta­ble," she said in her vic­tory speech.

In New Hamp­shire, Pap­pas did not stress his LGBT sta­tus dur­ing the cam­paign, but re­acted with pas­sion dur­ing a de­bate when his GOP ri­val, Ed­die Ed­wards, ques­tioned why Pap­pas had been pho­tographed wear­ing a "Re­sist" T-shirt.

"The photo you are re­fer­ring to is a rain­bow shirt I wore at a gay pride event," Pap­pas said. "I am proud of who I am and I am proud to stand up against hate, big­otry and in­tol­er­ance."

In Colorado, which was be­set by gay-rights con­tro­ver­sies in the past, Po­lis' suc­cess­ful cam­paign for gov­er­nor was strik­ing in that his LGBT sta­tus never be­came a cam­paign is­sue.

BY COLIN E. BRALEY

AP FILE PHOTO In this Tues­day, Nov. 6, photo, Demo­cratic house can­di­date Sharice Davids pre­pares to speak to sup­port­ers at a vic­tory party in Olathe, Kan. Davids de­feated Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Kevin Yoder to win the Kansas' 3rd Con­gres­sional Dis­trict seat.

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