In Texas politics, lesbians are a winning bet.
“It’s been a good state for strong women,” said Victory Fund President Annise Parker. “Lesbians in Texas have done really well.”
Parker, the former mayor of Houston, arrived in Fort Lauderdale Thursday afternoon for a few days of campaigning for candidates in South Florida. In her home state of Texas, Parker has seen lesbians win campaigns for sheriff and district attorney.
“In terms of really moving up the ladder women have done well,” Parker said. “We don’t care where you are from. You don’t have to be born there. It’s not like the South where everybody wants to know ‘who your people are?’ and ‘Where ya from?’…. We don’t really care, it’s what you can do and that attitude has allowed us to flourish there.”
Parker took over as President of the Victory Fund last year. The organization was founded in 1991 as the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
“Our mission is to elect LGBTQ candidates wherever they are and whatever political party they are in,” said Parker in an interview with SFGN at Warsaw Coffee Company on Northeast 13th Street in Fort Lauderdale. “Our bread and butter is actually local races.”
To be endorsed by the Victory Fund a candidate must fulfill three basic requirements: Live an open LGBT life, fight anti-LGBT legislation and believe in a right to privacy.
Rights to privacy, Parker said, previously dealt with sodomy laws, but more recently concern a woman’s right to choose. Each candidate must be capable of winning with a good reputation in their respective communities, Parker said.
“Every candidate is in a local context of what makes one viable,” Parker said. “The issues are different, the personalities are different and the political team has to drill down. It doesn’t mean they have to be universally popular, it means they have to be able to put together a winning combination of issues and campaign team and have some understanding of the dynamics at play. We can lay out a path to victory.”
Parker served six years as Mayor of Houston. She was a Houston Commissioner and the city’s controller before being elected Mayor. She was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010 by Time Magazine.
At Victory Fund, Parker said, the organization very much believes in promoting quality candidates and growing careers.
Parker cited Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis and Florida Representative David Richardson as examples of candidates taking their talents to another level.
Trantalis came in first in Fort Lauderdale’s Mayoral election primary with 46 percent of the vote. Richardson, a Miami Democrat, is seeking an open Congressional seat in district 27.
“I just learned that race may be a little disruptive,” Parker said. “Donna Shalala (former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services) is thinking about it and that would be a game changer in that race, but David has our full support and we’re in it to the end.”
Richardson, the first openly gay man elected to the Florida House of Representatives, is one of 64 candidates currently endorsed by the Victory Fund. Lauren Baer, a married lesbian running for the first time in Congressional district 18 is the other Florida candidate endorsed in a federal campaign.
Primary elections are held in August. For more information, visit VictoryFund.org