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2017

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Danica Roem Makes Trans History

Victory staff knocking doors for candidate Danica Roem before her June primary.
Victory staff knocking doors for candidate Danica Roem before her June primary.

Danica Roem’s history-making journey began as an unknown candidate joined a four-way Democratic primary for a state legislative seat in Virginia. The incumbent, Republican Bob Marshall – the self-described “chief homophobe” of the House of Delegates – had held the seat for more than 25 years. Roem’s candidacy seemed the definition of a long-shot. 

Yet she put in the hard work of campaigning, knocking on thousands of doors and famously showing voters the bottom of her worn out shoes. She kept on message, being open about her gender identity but focusing her pitch on everyday issues including fixing “Fix Route 28 Now!” – a commuter road in her district notorious for bad traffic. On primary day, June 13, she defeated her closest competitor by 15 points.

Once in the general election, Marshall continued his homophobic and transphobic rhetoric and consistently misgendered her. Victory Fund branded him “Bigot Bob,” a nickname that stuck and was often referenced in media reports. She was relentless in continuing to focus on the needs of constituents, outraising Marshall five-to-one with contributions from Virginians and LGBTQ donors across the country. On November 7, she defeated Marshall, winning nearly 57 percent of the vote. She became the first out trans person to win and serve in a state legislative seat.

“For trans youth across the country, Danica Roem’s election isn’t just a headline or even history,” said Sarah McBride at the time. “It’s hope. Hope for a better tomorrow.” McBride would become the nation’s first out trans state senator in America in 2020. She was one of many trans candidates for state legislative seats and other positions who cited Roem’s win as inspiration for their runs. In 2018, just one year after Roem’s victory, four out trans people won state legislative seats.

Victory Fund realized the potential of Roem’s race early and invested heavily in her campaign – raising 41 percent of her primary budget and featuring her at its 2017 National Champagne Brunch. “Here’s the bottom line: I don’t know how I would have won without Victory Fund,” said Roem several months after her victory. “They had my back when I needed them the most, during the Democratic primary and in the general election. Victory Fund helped me raise thousands of dollars and recruit the volunteers who knocked on doors, made phone calls and put me over the top.”

Delegate Roem speaks at the 2018 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference.

Year of the Trans Candidate

Candidate Andrea Jenkins at Victory Fund's National Champagne Brunch in 2017.
Candidate Andrea Jenkins at Victory Fund's National Champagne Brunch in 2017.

Danica Roem made the biggest headlines in November 2017, yet other history-making trans candidates won their elections, leading Victory Fund to call it the “Year of the Trans Candidate.” Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham won seats on the Minneapolis City Council, both becoming the first out trans people to serve on a city council in a major U.S. city. Lisa Middleton won election to the Palm Springs City Council, becoming the first out trans person elected to a non-judicial office in California, and Tyler Titus became the first out trans person elected in Pennsylvania when they won a seat on the Erie School Board. In just one election cycle, the number of out trans elected officials doubled nationwide.

Jenny Durkan Elected First Lesbian Mayor of Seattle

Jenny Durkan on the campaign trail in 2017.
Jenny Durkan on the campaign trail in 2017.

Jenny Durkan announced her candidacy for mayor on May 11, 2017, just days after incumbent gay Mayor Ed Murray announced he would resign. Despite a crowded primary, Durkan received 28 percent of the vote, and in the general election won more than 60 percent. Durkan became the first out lesbian mayor of Seattle and just the second out lesbian to be elected mayor of a major American city. Durkan also became the first woman to serve as Seattle mayor since the 1920s. 

Palm Springs Elects America’s First All-LGBTQ Council

Palm Springs Council Members Lisa Middleton and Christy Holstege. Courtesy of Equality California.
Palm Springs Council Members Lisa Middleton and Christy Holstege. Courtesy of Equality California.

Palm Springs made LGBTQ history again, when voters elected Lisa Middleton and Christy Holstege to its city council, making it the first all-LGBTQ city council in U.S. history. Palm Springs voters had previously elected the nation’s first Black out LGBTQ mayor, Ron Oden, in 2003, and the council had an LGBTQ-majority for more than a decade prior to 2017. But the all-LGBTQ council generated national headlines and demonstrated the power of the LGBTQ voting bloc. 

Annise Parker Takes the Helm at Victory Fund and Victory Institute

Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin embrace at Victory Institute's Pride Month reception on Capitol Hill on June 12, 2019.
Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin embrace at Victory Institute's Pride Month reception on Capitol Hill on June 12, 2019.

LGBTQ trailblazer Annise Parker was chosen by the board of directors in 2017 to succeed Aisha Mills as President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund and LGBTQ Victory Institute, becoming the first former elected official to lead the organizations. Parker – the first out LGBTQ person elected mayor of a major American city – had completed her third term as mayor of Houston in 2016 and could not seek reelection because of term limits. 

“Victory played such an important role in my political career, beginning with my run for Houston City Council through my campaign for mayor, and I am thrilled about the opportunity to lead the organizations and help other LGBTQ elected officials win and make change,” said Parker at the time. 

Parker first began advocating for LGBTQ equality in the 1970s and has served as a board member or officer for dozens of organizations since then. Throughout her tenure so far, Parker has dramatically increased the capacity of the organizations as well as the number of LGBTQ people endorsed and trained. 

LGBTQ Victory Fund Endorsed Candidates in 2017

LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed 90 candidates in 2017.

Wins

Christopher Constant, Anchorage Assembly, Alaska

Felix Rivera, Anchorage Assembly, Alaska

Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis City Council, Minnesota

Phillipe Cunningham, Minneapolis City Council, Minnesota

Danica Roem, Virginia House of Delegates, Virginia

Jenny Durkan, Mayor of Seattle, Washington

Paul Durham, Tuscon City Council, Arizona

Mike Bonin, Los Angeles City Council, California

Christy Holstege, Palm Springs City Council, California

Lisa Middleton, Palm Springs City Council, California

Guyleen Castriotta, Broomfield City Council, Colorado

Michael Gongora, Miami Beach Commission, Florida

Jose Ramirez, Berwyn City Council, Illinois

Jeanine Reardon, Berwyn City Council, Illinois

Margaret Paul, Berwyn Town Clerk, Illinois

Nick Kachiroubas, Crystal Lake City Clerk, Illinois

Jeff Harris, Westwood City Council, Kansas

Denise Simmons, Cambridge City Council (Mayor), Massachusetts

Matthew Miller, Newton School Committee, Massachusetts

Michael Fenton, Springfield City Council, Massachusetts

Nelson Roman, Holyoke City Council, Massachusetts

Alex Morse, Mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts

Patrick Wojahn, Mayor of College Park, Maryland

Peter Spadafore, Lansing City Council, Michigan

Carol Becker, Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation, Minnesota

Karen Stegman, Chapel Hill Town Council, North Carolina

LaWana Mayfield, Charlotte City Council, North Carolina

Lydia Lavelle, Mayor of Carrboro, North Carolina

Vernetta Alston, Durham City Council, North Carolina

Reginald Bledsoe, Newark Board of Education, New Jersey

Dean Dafis, Maplewood Township Committee, New Jersey

Ed Zipprich, Red Bank City Council, New Jersey

Tim Eustace, New Jersey General Assembly, New Jersey

Reed Gusciora, New Jersey General Assembly, New Jersey

Richard Conti, Albany Common Council, New York

Corey Johnson, New York City Council, New York

Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati City Council, Ohio

Tamaya Dennard, Cincinnati City Council, Ohio

Ryan Messer, Cincinnati Board of Education, Ohio

Nick Komives, Toledo City Council, Ohio

Ben Allatt, Harrisburg City Council, Pennsylvania

Tyler Titus, Erie School Board, Pennsylvania

Amy Zanelli, Lehigh County Commission, Pennsylvania

Omar Narvaez, Dallas City Council, Texas

Christopher Wharton, Salt Lake City Council, Utah

Lawrence Webb, Falls Church School Board, Virginia

Mark Levine, Virginia House of Delegates , Virginia

Zachary DeWolf, Seattle School Board, Washington

Nathan Jeffries, Spokane County Water Utility Commission, Washington

Mitzi Johanknecht, King County Sheriff, Washington

Losses

Cathy Woolard, Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia

Kevin Patterson, Phoenix City Council, Arizona

Luis Lopez, California State Assembly, California

Rafer Johnson, Mayor of South Fulton, Georgia

Joshua McNair, Fulton County Commission, Georgia

DeAndre Pickett, Georgia State House, Georgia

Kirk Rich, Atlanta City Council, Georgia

Liliana Bakhtiari, Atlanta City Council, Georgia

Keisha Waites, Chair, Fulton County Commission, Georgia

Alex Wan, Atlanta City Council President, Georgia

Joseph Johnston, Berwyn Township Trustee, Illinois

Seth Bloom, New Orleans City Council, Louisiana

Nicole Castillo, Newton City Council, Massachusetts

Mike Kelley, Boston City Council, Massachusetts

Kris Fair, Frederick Board of Aldermen, Maryland

Marpheen Chann, Portland City Council, Maine

Jim McClurken, Lansing City Council, Michigan

Jillia Pessenda, Minneapolis City Council, Minnesota

Ryan Richman, Manchester Board of Aldermen, New Hampshire

Don Guardian, Mayor of Atlantic City, New Jersey

Shannon Cuttle, South Orange/Maplewood Board of Education, New Jersey

Kristen Browde, New Castle Town Supervisor, New York

Mel Wymore, New York City Council, New York

Elvin Garcia, New York City Council, New York

Dylan Schwartz, New York City Council, New York

Kevin Carroll, New York City Council, New York

Jimmy Pearson, Dutchess County Legislature, New York

Darlene Rogers, Hamilton County Muncipal Judge, Ohio

Renee Hevia, Cincinnati Board of Education, Ohio

Henry Sias, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania

Ernie Schlegel, Reading City Council, Pennsylvania

Joshua Brady, Mayor of Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Chris Anderson, Chattanooga City Council, Tennessee

Johnny Boucher, Grand Prairie ISD School Board, Texas

Joshua Carter, El Paso Community College Board of Trustees, Texas

Taylor Knuth, Ogden City Council, Utah

Sophia Hawes-Tingey, Mayor of Midvale, Utah

Chad Harper, Des Moines City Council, Washington

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