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It’s a midterm election year and while there are thousands of LGBT candidates out there, we put together a shortlist of noteworthy national campaigns to keep your eye on in 2022.

To be fair, we highlighted one campaign in one state and looked far and wide to find gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender candidates and even found a Republican. Good luck to all!

Tina Kotek, Oregon Governor: Kotek, 55, served as Oregon’s Speaker of the House since 2013, stepping down recently to run for governor. She would be the first lesbian elected governor in the United States, but not a shoo-in. Kotek, who has never won a statewide election, faces a crowded field for the Democratic nomination in a state that has endured some of the strictest COVID-19 protocols.

Malcolm Kenyatta, U.S. Senate Pennsylvania: Another urban leader taking on the challenge of campaigning statewide. Kenyatta, 31, rose to prominence with a take-charge attitude and unabashed progressive principles. Black, gay, and married with union backing. Expect Kenyatta is making some noise in this election cycle.

Robert Garcia, U.S. Congress California: The mayor of Long Beach, California is looking to step up in service. A loyal supporter of the Biden/Harris administration, Garcia, 44, has raised his profile during the focus on supply chain management. He is seeking to succeed retiring Rep. Alan Lowenthal in California’s 47th Congressional District.

Michele Rayner, U.S. Congress Florida: Rayner is the first queer Black woman elected to the Florida House of Representatives. A highly accomplished civil rights attorney, Rayner, 40, is campaigning for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. In her first term in Tallahassee, Rayner has been an outspoken supporter of women’s health care, trade unions and LGBT rights.

Daniel Hernandez, U.S. Congress Arizona: Hernandez gained hero status when he was the first person to administer aid to former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords during her attempted assassination. A gay Hispanic man, Hernandez, 32, has served in the Arizona House of Representatives since 2017. He is campaigning for the Democratic nomination in Arizona’s 6th Congressional District, which includes his hometown of Tucson.

Jim Obergefell, Ohio House of Representatives: Best known as the lead plaintiff in the historic 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage. A native of Ohio, Obergefell, 55, is seeking the House seat in District 89, which includes his hometown of Sandusky on the shores of Lake Erie.

Celia Israel, Austin, Texas Mayor: Israel, 57, has served in the Texas House of Representatives since 2014. She would be the first lesbian or Latina elected mayor of Texas’ capital city.

Adrian Tam, Hawaii House of Representatives: Tam, 29, made headlines when he defeated a leader of the hate group Proud Boys to become the only gay legislator in Hawaii’s House of Representatives. The son of immigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan, Tam was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii and is a licensed realtor.

Ritchie Torres, U.S. Congress New York: The first openly gay Afro-Latin American member of Congress. Torres, 33, a champion of public housing reform, represents New York’s 15th Congressional District which includes most of the South Bronx.

Jared Polis, Colorado Governor: The first openly gay man elected governor of the U.S. state and Colorado’s first Jewish governor. Polis, 46, married his partner last year. The couple has two children.

Maura Healey, Massachusetts Governor: Massachusetts Attorney General since 2015. Healey, 50, is a lesbian and basketball enthusiast who filed more than 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration while serving as Mass. AG.

Mike Simmons, Illinois Senate: The first openly gay member of the Illinois State Senate. Simmons, 38, served as deputy director for My Brother’s Keeper, an Obama Foundation initiative to build safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color.

Sharice Davids, U.S. Congress Kansas: The first out LGBT Native American elected to Congress. A lawyer and ex-mixed martial artist, Davids, 41, represents Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District.

Joshua Higginbotham, West Virginia Senate: In 2021, Higginbotham came out as gay while serving as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates. A Republican and a Christian, Higginbotham, 25, sponsored legislation to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in West Virginia’s human rights and fair housing laws.

Clay Aiken, U.S. Congress North Carolina: The former “American Idol” singer returns for another chance at politics. Aiken, 43, a high school special education teacher is campaigning as a Democrat in a new district covering parts of North Carolina’s research triangle.

5 More to Watch: 

Sarah McBride, trans woman, Delaware State Senate 

Keturah Herron, queer, Kentucky House of Representatives 

David Cicilline, gay man, U.S. Congress, Rhode Island 

Zooey Zephry, bisexual trans woman, Montana House of Representatives 

Neil Rafferty, gay man, Alabama House of Representatives


Queer Black Woman Wins Florida House Seat