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2018

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A “Rainbow Wave” on Election Night

The New York Times covered the election of hundreds of LGBTQ candidates on November 7, 2018.
The New York Times covered the election of hundreds of LGBTQ candidates on November 7, 2018.

On Election Night 2018, media outlets across the nation and world reported a “Rainbow Wave” of LGBTQ candidates had won their elections – a narrative pushed by Victory Fund in the aftermath of an astounding year for LGBTQ candidates. At least 432 out LGBTQ candidates were on the ballot that November – the most ever – and an unprecedented 244 of them won.

Among the exciting storylines that Election Night was a historic number of LGBTQ Congressional candidates winning elections. All four U.S House incumbents running for reelection won their races – Representatives David Cicilline, Sean Patrick Maloney, Mark Pocan and Mark Takano – as did four non-incumbents. Angie Craig became the first out member of Congress from Minnesota, defeating anti-LGBTQ incumbent Jason Lewis, who had beat her by 1.8 percent of the vote in 2016. Sharice Davids became the first out member of Congress from Kansas and joined newly elected Deb Haaland in becoming the first Native American women elected to Congress. Chris Pappas became the first out member of Congress from New Hampshire and Katie Hill the first out LGBTQ woman member from California.

U.S. Rep-Elect Sharice Davids at LGBTQ Victory Institute's International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in December 2018.

Incumbent U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin defeated an anti-LGBTQ candidate in her reelection race for the U.S. Senate– winning by 11 points, despite Donald Trump having won the state of Wisconsin just two years prior. U.S. Representative Kyrsten Sinema, running for a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona, defeated her opponent to become the first out bisexual member of the U.S. Senate. With two U.S. senators and eight U.S. House members, ten out LGBTQ people were elected to Congress in 2018, more than ever before.

“Never in our nation’s history have so many out LGBTQ people decided to run for office and be the change they demand to see in the world – and we are determined to ensure this energy does not fade,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “We were able to ensure many of these leaders crossed the finish line on Election Day, and importantly, LGBTQ incumbents were overwhelmingly reelected by voters in states both red and blue.”

America Elects First Gay Governor, Colorado's Jared Polis

Victory Fund President & CEO Annise Parker and then Colorado gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis walk in the Denver Pride Parade in June 2018.
Victory Fund President & CEO Annise Parker and then Colorado gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis walk in the Denver Pride Parade in June 2018.

Jared Polis began his career in 2001 as a member of the Colorado State Board of Education and served until 2007, two years before running for a seat in the U.S. Congress. In 2009, he became the first out LGBTQ member of Congress from Colorado and was serving in the position when he decided to take a shot at running for governor in 2018.

In the primary, Polis faced some dogwhistle attacks from Democratic party members who were supposedly skeptical about whether an out candidate could win a statewide election in Colorado. It was 25 years earlier that Colorado was dubbed the “hate state” for its anti-LGBTQ laws and voter-approved anti-LGBTQ ballot initiative. But on November 6, Polis defeated his opponent by nearly ten points, becoming the nation’s first out gay man elected governor.

"Tonight we proved that we are an inclusive state that values everyone's contribution, regardless of someone's sexual orientation," Polis said on election night.

Christine Hallquist Runs Historic Gubernatorial Campaign in Vermont

Vermont gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist (fourth from right) with Victory Fund staff in 2018.
Vermont gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist (fourth from right) with Victory Fund staff in 2018.

Christine Hallquist – a well-respected Vermont businesswoman – defeated three Democratic primary opponents on August 14 with more than 40 percent of the vote to become the first out trans major party nominee for governor. Her campaign quickly gained national attention for its historic nature, resulting in a flood of praise and excitement, but also a barrage of death threats. While Hallquist was unsurprised, the threats became so common it forced her to suspend campaign appearances and her team made the decision not to publicize the address of her campaign headquarters.

“Early on when our team assembled I said 'the more successful we are, the more vitriol and threats we are going to receive, ’”Hallquist told the Burlington Free Press. “It's kind of a natural outcome of our divided country.”

Even without having to suspend her campaign, Hallquist faced an uphill battle against a popular incumbent and ultimately lost in the general election. Yet her primary victory received international attention and opened up the door to future high-profile trans candidacies.

Ricardo Lara Wins Statewide Office in California

Ricardo Lara
Ricardo Lara

Ricardo Lara first made history in 2012 when he became the first out LGBTQ person of color elected to the California state Senate. Healthcare was a primary focus of his while in the senate – leading on a landmark law that provided healthcare to immigrant children – and that work helped inspire him to run for California Insurance Commissioner. On Election Night 2018, Lara narrowly defeated his Republican opponent in the race for commissioner, becoming the first out LGBTQ person elected statewide in California.

Number of Trans State Legislators in the U.S. Quadruples

Trans elected officials at Victory Institute’s International LGBTQ Leaders Conference (left to right): Monika Nemeth, Brianna Titone, Delegate Danica Roem, Tyler Titus and Lisa Bunker
Trans elected officials at Victory Institute’s International LGBTQ Leaders Conference (left to right): Monika Nemeth, Brianna Titone, Delegate Danica Roem, Tyler Titus and Lisa Bunker

In 2017, Danica Roem captured international attention for her historic win in Virginia, becoming the first out trans person to win and serve in a state legislature. Just one year later, many trans state legislative candidates were citing her campaign as inspiration to run for office themselves–and three out trans state legislative candidates won on Election Night. Both Lisa Bunker and Gerri Cannon won seats in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, becoming the first state in the nation to elect two out trans state legislators. In Colorado, Brianna Titone won her primary with little party support and squeaked by in the general election, winning by just 439 votes out of 49,475.

The three victories quadrupled the number of out trans state legislators in the country and proved Roem’s victory was more than an aberration. Their victories inspired more trans candidates to run in 2020 as well, again doubling the number of out trans state legislators to 10. Roem won reelection in 2019and Bunker, Cannon and Titone won again in 2020.

Lavender Ceilings Shattered in State Legislatures in 2018 Elections

Neil Rafferty at a Victory Fund event in 2018.
Neil Rafferty at a Victory Fund event in 2018.

Only seven states in the nation had never elected an out LGBTQ person to their state legislature at the start of 2018, but that number was reduced to four on Election Night 2018. Indiana elected JD Ford to the state Senate, Megan Hunt was elected to the Nebraska state House, and Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodard were elected to the Kansas state House – all state legislatures where no out LGBTQ person had been elected to before.

Yet state legislative candidates across the country shattered long-standing political barriers to become historic firsts. Malcolm Kenyatta and Lamont Robinson won in Pennsylvania and Illinois, respectively, becoming the first out LGBTQ state legislators of color in their states. Ohio state Representative Nickie Antonio, Michigan state Representative Jeremy Moss and Maryland state Representative Mary Washington all won their races and became the first out state senators in their states. In Florida, Jennifer Webb became the first out lesbian elected to the state legislature and Neil Rafferty became the first gay man elected to the Alabama state legislature. Rafferty won the seat vacated by the retiring Patricia Todd, who had been the first out LGBTQ Alabama state legislator.

The number of out state legislators serving grew by nearly 25 percent in 2018 – from 119 to 148.

Wilton Manors Elects Second All-LGBTQ Government

Wilton Manors City Hall
Wilton Manors City Hall

Three out LGBTQ candidates were running for two open spots on the Wilton Manors City Council in Florida and Justin Flippen was running for mayor – presenting an opportunity to elect an all-LGBTQ government for just the second time in U.S. history. In November, Flippen won his election and Gary Resnick and Paul Rolli won seats on the council, making Wilton Manors just the second all-LGBTQ government in U.S. history. The first was Palm Springs in 2017.

LGBTQ Victory Fund Endorsed Candidates in 2018

LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed 174 candidates in 2018.

Wins

Neil Rafferty, Alabama House of Representatives, Alabama

Tippi  McCullough, Arkansas House of Representatives, Arkansas

Jennifer Webb, Florida House of Representatives, Florida

Laurie Farrow, Justice of the Peace, Carroll County, Arkansas

Matthew  Wilson, Georgia House of Representatives, Georgia

Andres Cano , Arizona House of Representatives, Arizona

Brian Garcia, Tempe Union HSD Governing Board , Arizona

Cesar Chavez, Arizona House of Representatives, Arizona

Daniel Hernandez, Arizona House of Representatives, Arizona

Darlene Martinez, Constable of Downtown Justice Court, Arizona

Jared Polis, Governor of Colorado, Colorado

Adam Spickler, Cabrillo College Trustee, California

Ahmad Zahra, Fullerton City Council, California

Alex Brown, Chico City Council, California

Denise Davis, Redlands City Council, California

Evan Low, California State Assembly, California

Gabriel Quinto, El Cerrito City Council, California

James Chang, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, California

James  Aguilar, San Leandro Unified School District Governing Board Member, California

Jeffrey Prang, Los Angeles County Assessor, California

Jennifer Campbell, San Diego City Council, California

Joaquin Rivera, Alameda County Board of Education, California

Jordan Brandman, Anaheim City Council, California

Kevin Beiser, San Diego Unified School Board President, California

Laura Parmer-Lohan, San Carlos City Council, California

Lori Droste, Berkeley City Council, California

Kate Brown, Governor of Oregon, Oregon

Miles Prince, San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, California

Rachelanne Vander Werf, American River Flood Control District Trustee, California

Rafael Mandelman, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, California

Raymond Gregory, Cathedral City Council Member , California

Ricardo Lara, California Insurance Commissioner , California

Robert Garcia, Mayor of Long Beach, California

Rosanna Herber, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, California

Sabrina Cervantes, California State Assembly, California

Scott Houston, West Basin Municipal Water District, California

Shawn Kumagai, Dublin City Council, California

Shay Franco-Clausen, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, California

Todd Gloria, California State Assembly, California

Tyller Williamson, Monterey City Council, California

Alex  Valdez, Colorado House of Representatives, Colorado

Brianna Titone, Colorado House of Representatives, Colorado

Daneya Esgar, Colorado House of Representatives, Colorado

Leslie Herod, Colorado House of Representatives, Colorado

Rochelle Galindo, Colorado House of Representatives, Colorado

Sonya Jaquez Lewis, Colorado House of Representatives, Colorado

Kevin Lembo, Connecticut State Comptroller, Connecticut

Raghib Allie-Brennan, Connecticut House of Representatives, Connecticut

Bryan Caletka, Davie Town Council, Florida

Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida House of Representatives, Florida

Dean Trantalis, Mayor of Fort Lauderdale , Florida

Park  Cannon, Georgia House of Representatives, Georgia

Shevrin Jones, Florida House of Representatives, Florida

Steve Glassman, Fort Lauderdale Council, Florida

Teri Johnston, Mayor of Key West, Florida

Ben Ku, Gwinnett County Commissioner, Georgia

Sam Park, Georgia House of Representatives, Georgia

J.D. Ford, Indiana State Senate, Indiana

Renitta Shannon, Georgia House of Representatives, Georgia

Brandon Woodard, Kansas House of Representatives, Kansas

Joshua Tenorio, Lt. Governor of Guam, Guam

Liz Bennett, Iowa House of Representatives, Iowa

John McCrostie, Idaho State House, Idaho

Cecilia  Horan, Judicial Circuit Court of Hartigan, Illinois

Debra Shore , Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Illinois

Kevin Morrison, Cook County Board Commissioner, Illinois

Lamont Robinson, Illinois House of Representatives, Illinois

Rob Reneau, Peoria County Board Member , Illinois

Sam Yingling, Illinois House of Representative, Illinois

Susan Ruiz, Kansas House of Representatives, Kansas

Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General, Massachusetts

Dana Nessel, Michigan Attorney General, Michigan

Susan Lamb, Lexington City Council, Kentucky

Evan Ross, Amherst Town Council, Massachusetts

Jack Lewis, Massachusetts House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Julian Cyr, Massachusetts State Senate, Massachusetts

Sarah Peake, Massachusetts House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Anne Kaiser, Maryland House of Delegates, Maryland

Bonnie Cullison, Maryland House of Delegates, Maryland

Byron Macfarlane, Howard County Register of Wills, Maryland

Evan Glass, Montgomery County Council, Maryland

Gabriel Acevero, Maryland House of Delegates, Maryland

Liz Barrett, Frederick County Board of Education, Maryland

Luke Clippinger, Maryland House of Delegates, Maryland

Mary  Washington, Maryland State Senate, Maryland

Andrew McLean, Maine House of Representatives, Maine

Justin Chenette, Maine State Senate, Maine

Matthew Moonen, Maine House of Representatives, Maine

Ryan  Fecteau, Maine House of Representatives, Maine

Jake Cunningham, Oakland County Circuit Court, Michigan

Jason Morgan, Washtenaw County Commissioner, Michigan

Jeremy Moss, Michigan State Senate, Michigan

Jon Hoadley, Michigan House of Representatives, Michigan

Katie Scott, Washtenaw County Commissioner, Michigan

Tim Sneller, Michigan House of Representatives, Michigan

Dave Hutchinson, Hennepin County Sheriff, Minnesota

Hunter Cantrell, Minnesota House of Representatives, Minnesota

Wendy Berry, West St. Paul City Council, Minnesota

Greg Razer, Missouri House of Representatives, Missouri

Ian Mackey, Missouri House of Representatives, Missouri

Andrea Olsen, Montana House of Representatives, Montana

Bryce Bennett, Montana State Senate, Montana

Allison Dahle, North Carolina House of Representatives, North Carolina

Amanda Maris, District Court Judge, North Carolina

Cecil Brockman, North Carolina House of Representatives, North Carolina

Deb Butler, North Carolina House of Representatives, North Carolina

Greg Ford, Wake County Board of Commissioner, North Carolina

John Arrowood, North Carolina Court of Appeals, North Carolina

Marcia Morey, North Carolina House of Representatives, North Carolina

Mark Kleinschmidt, Orange County Clerk of Superior Court, North Carolina

Marque Snow, Omaha Public Schools District, Nebraska

Megan Hunt, Nebraska House of Representatives, Nebraska

Garrett Muscatel, New Hampshire House of Representatives, New Hampshire

Gerri Cannon, New Hampshire House of Representatives, New Hampshire

Lisa Bunker, New Hampshire House of Representatives, New Hampshire

Betsy Driver, Mayor of Flemington, New Jersey

Caitlin Giles-McCormick, Flemington Borough Council, New Jersey

Julia Fahl, Mayor of Lambertville, New Jersey

Reed Gusciora, Mayor of Trenton, New Jersey

Lidia Stiglich, Nevada Supreme Court, Nevada

Melanie Scheible, Nevada State Senate, Nevada

Daniel O'Donnell, New York State Assembly, New York

Deborah Glick, New York State Assembly, New York

Harry Bronson, New York State Assembly, New York

Matt Titone, New York Surrogate of Richmon County , New York

Katie  Hill, US House of Representatives, California

Nickie Antonio, Ohio State Senate, Ohio

Mark Takano, US House of Representatives, California

Chelsey Branham, Oklahoma House of Representatives, Oklahoma

Beach Pace, Hillsboro City Council, Oregon

CM  Hall, Newport City Hall, Oregon

Karin Power, Oregon House of Representatives, Oregon

Sharice Davids, US House of Representatives, Kansas

Tina Kotek, Oregon House of Representatives, Oregon

Angie Craig, US House of Representatives, Minnesota

Brian Sims, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Pennsylvania

Malcolm Kenyatta, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Pennsylvania

Chris  Pappas, US House of Representatives, New Hampshire

Donna Nesselbush, Rhode Island State Senate, Rhode Island

Rebecca Kislak, Rhode Island House of Representatives, Rhode Island

Samuel Bell, Rhode Island State Senate, Rhode Island

Beau Miller, 190th Judicial District Court, Texas

Celia Israel, Texas House of Representatives, Texas

Charles Spain, Justice, Court of Appeals for the 14th District of Texas, Texas

Sean Maloney, US House of Representatives, New York

Jason Cox, Harris County Probate Court , Texas

Jerry Simoneaux, Harris County Probate Court, Texas

Jessica Gonzalez, Texas House of Representatives, Texas

Jim Kovach, Harris County Civil Court at Law, Texas

Julie  Johnson, Texas House of Representatives, Texas

David  Cicilline, US House of Representatives, Rhode Island

Mary  Gonzalez, Texas House of Representatives, Texas

Shannon Baldwin , Harris County Criminal Court , Texas

Derek Kitchen, Utah State Senate, Utah

Becca Balint, Vermont State Senate, Vermont

Bill Lippert, Vermont House of Representatives, Vermont

Mark Pocan, US House of Representatives, Wisconsin

Debbie Ingram, Vermont State Senate, Vermont

Kathleen James, Vermont House of Representatives, Vermont

Christine Kilduff, Washington House of Representatives, Washington

Claire  Wilson, Washington State Senate, Washington

Emily Randall, Washington State Senate, Washington

Jamie Pedersen, Washington State Senate, Washington

Laurie Jinkins, Washington House of Representatives, Washington

Marko Liias, Washington State Senate, Washington

Michael Scott, King County Superior Court Judge, Washington

Nicole Macri, Washington House of Representatives, Washington

JoCasta Zamarripa, Wisconsin State Assembly, Wisconsin

Marisabel Cabrera, Wisconsin State Assembly, Wisconsin

Kyrsten  Sinema, US Senate, Arizona

Mark Spreitzer, Wisconsin State Assembly, Wisconsin

Tammy Baldwin, US Senate, Wisconsin

Tim Carpenter, Wisconsin State Senate, Wisconsin

Cody Thompson, West Vergina House of Delegates, West Virginia

Losses

Elias Rojas, Alaska House of Representatives, Alaska

Mark Kinion, Arkansas House of Representatives, Arkansas

Sean Maloney, Attorney General of New York, New York

Richard Madaleno, Governor of Maryland, Maryland

Felicia Stewart, Alabama House of Representatives, Alabama

Dave Myers, Sheriff of San Diego County, California

Eric Gudz, Davis City Council, California

Linda Deos, Davis City Council, California

Shay Franco-Clausen, San Jose City Council, California

Kent Boese, DC Council, District of Columbia

Joseph Daigle, Delaware House of Representatives, Delavare

Erin Maye-Quade, Lt. Governor of Minnesota, Minnesota

Kim  Iwamoto, Lt. Governor of Hawaii, Hawaii

Jake Schafer , Hawaii House of Representatives, Hawaii

Michael Forti, Circuit Court Cook County, Illinois

David Ermold, Rowan County Clerk , Kentucky

Matt  Pelikan, Minnesota Attorney General, Minnesota

Kevin Higgins, Massachusetts House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Amaad Rivera, Massachusetts State Senate, Massachusetts

Mila Johns, Maryland House of Delegates, Maryland

Kevin Mack, Maryland House of Delegates, Maryland

Dana  Beyer, Maryland State Senate, Maryland

Pete Fosselman, Montgomery County Council, Maryland

Matthew Heinz, US House of Representatives, Arizona

Mark Leno, Mayor of San Francisco, California

David Richardson, US House of Representatives, Florida

Jim Gray, US House of Representatives, Kentucky

Rufus Gifford, US House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Pat Spearman, US House of Representatives, Nevada

Elvin Montero, Trenton City Council, New Jersey

Ashley Lunkenheimer, US House of Representatives, Pennsylvania

Melissa Sklarz, New York State Assembly, New York

Torrey Harris, Tennessee House of Representatives, Tennessee

Shannon  McClendon, Texas State Senate, Texas

Susan Steeg, Justice of the Peace Pct. 3 Travis County , Texas

Fran Watson, Texas State Senate, Texas

Nicole Carry, Norfolk School Board, Virginia

Lyn Franks, Alaska House of Representatives, Alaska

Cedric McMinn, Florida House of Representatives, Florida

Sarah Scanlon, Arkansas North Little Rock School Board, Arkansas

John Gomez, Cartwright School District Governing Board, Arizona

Alex Gutierrez, Tulare City Council, California

Betty Valencia, Orange City Council, California

Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego Board of Supervisors, California

Cesar Zepeda, Richmond City Council, California

Cori Schumacher, Mayor of Carlsbad , California

Jason Galisatus, Redwood City Council, California

Jimmy Dutra, Santa Cruz County Supervisor, California

Joy  Silver, California State Senate, California

Mia Satya, San Francisco Unified School District, California

Paul Gonzales, Santa Ana City Council, California

Phil Kim, San Francisco Unified School District, California

Sunday Gover, California State Assembly, California

Whitney Weddell, Kern County Supervisor, California

Lupe Valdez, Governor of Texas, Texas

Caitlin Clarkson-Pereira, Connecticut House of Representatives, Connecticut

John Scott, Connecticut House of Representatives, Connecticut

Dionne Reeder, DC Council, District of Columbia

Jason Andrean, DC State Board of Education , District of Columbia

Christine Hallquist, Governor of Vermont, Vermont

Javier Estevez, Florida House of Representatives, Florida

Lasia Casil, Legislature of Guam, Guam

Chris Miller, Madison County Treasurer, Illinois

Maggie Trevor, Illinois House of Representative, Illinois

Josh Mers, Kentucky House of Representatives, Kentucky

Ricardo White, Michigan House of Representatives, Michigan

Richard Perque, Civil District Court Judge, Louisiana

Nelson Araujo, Nevada Secretary of State, Nevada

Tanya Neslusan, Massachusetts House of Representatives, Massachusetts

Joshua Boschee, North Dakota Secretary of State , North Dakota

Garnet Lewis, Michigan State Senate, Michigan

Lauren Baer, US House of Representatives, Florida

Mitch Weber, Missouri House of Representatives, Missouri

Ryan Dillon, Missouri State Senate, Missouri

Amelia Marquez, Montana House of Representatives, Montana

Marcia Morgan, North Carolina House of Representatives, North Carolina

Scott Winkler, Nebraska House of Representatives, Nebraska

Carlos Cardona, New Hampshire House of Representatives, New Hampshire

Dan Innis, New Hampshire State Senate, New Hampshire

Mason Donovan, New Hampshire State Senate, New Hampshire

Daniel Ward, Barnegat Township Committee, New Jersey

Leonard Resto, Chatham Borough Council, New Jersey

Meghan Huryk, Neptune City Borough Council, New Jersey

Neil Abadie, Jesey City Board of Education, New Jersey

Tracy Mitrano, US House of Representatives, New York

Rick  Neal, US House of Representatives, Ohio

Aidan O'Connor Jr., New York State Assembly, New York

Gina Ortiz Jones, US House of Representatives, Texas

John McManus, Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio

Lis Regula, Portage County Auditor, Ohio

Taylor Sappington, Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio

Daniel Smith Jr., Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Pennsylvania

Kristin Seale, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Pennsylvania

Bobby Levinski, Austin City Council, Texas

Danielle Skidmore, Austin City Council, Texas

Mark Phariss, Texas State Senate, Texas

Steven Kirkland, Texas Supreme Court, Texas

Kathy  Gillespie, Washington House of Representatives, Washington

Lee Snodgrass, Wisconsin State Senate, Wisconsin

Matt Spurlock, West Vergina House of Delegates, West Virginia

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