LGBT Candidates Come Out on Top in Elections Across the Country

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Lupe Valdez.

There was big news out of Texas last week.

Lupe Valdez won the Democratic nomination for governor of Texas in a run-off primary Tuesday night, becoming the first openly LGBT person–and the first Latina–to win a major party nomination for governor in the state.

Valdez’s win, with 52 percent of the vote, overshadowed three other important LGBT victories in the Lone Star state. Gina Ortiz Jones, as expected, easily won the Democratic nomination to represent the 23rd Congressional district in the western part of the state. Eric Holguin, who came in second place during the original March primary, won a Congressional nomination handily in Tuesday’s run-off for the 27th District’s vacant seat. And Lorie Burch won her run-off for the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Congressional district in the Dallas area with 75 percent of the vote.

There were some disappointments in Tuesday’s voting, too. Jim Gray, the popular openly gay mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, was beat out for the Democratic nomination for a U.S. House seat. His opponent was a newcomer to politics and to the state: a retired military fighter pilot, Amy McGrath. Gray, who had been considered the frontrunner for months, won only 41 percent of the vote. Republicans have already started calling McGrath, who sports a tough military-like demeanor, as a “radical liberal.”

Valdez, 70, first made history in 2004 when she became the first openly LGBT person to become sheriff anywhere in the nation–in Dallas, defeating a 30-year white male veteran of the Dallas police force. Polls strongly suggest Texas will re-elect its current Republican Governor Greg Abbott. 

Other races in LGBT election news Tuesday night:

  • ARKANSAS: In a dramatic comeback story, Tippi McCullough won the Democratic nomination for a House seat in the Arkansas legislature just five years after being forced to resign her private school teaching job in Little Rock because she married a woman. Because there is no Republican candidate competing for the seat representing the state’s most liberal district, Tuesday’s win sets up McCullough to become the second openly LGBT person to be elected to the Arkansas State House.
  • GEORGIA: Six openly LGBT candidates for the Georgia state House advanced Tuesday night to the general election. Five of them ran unopposed for their Democratic nominations. Two other candidates lost, but one incumbent, State Rep. Park Cannon, breezed to the nomination for re-election to her House seat representing the Atlanta area. An openly gay candidate for mayor of Athens, Richie Knight, lost his bid for the Democratic nomination, garnering only 10 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
  • KENTUCKY: An openly gay candidate for the State House, Josh Mers, lost his bid for the Democratic nomination to represent the Lexington-Fayette district.
  • TEXAS: Openly gay candidate Mary Wilson lost her bid for the Democratic nomination to represent the state’s 21st Congressional District. One openly gay candidate for a State Senate seat lost her run-off Tuesday.  Attorney-activist Fran Watson, in a district that stretches between Austin and San Antonio, took a respectable 42 percent of the vote.


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