News (USA)

LGBTQ candidates made a strong showing in yesterday’s primaries

Malcolm Kenyatta
Malcolm Kenyatta Photo: Malcolm for PA

The blue wave predicted for this fall’s midterm elections will have a lavender tinge to it. LGBTQ candidates made a strong showing in primary elections on Tuessday in Pennsylvania, Idaho and Oregon.

Pennsylvania attracted the most focus because of the high stakes in the Congressional races. In a tight race for the Democratic nomination for a Congressional seat in eastern Pennsylvania, out lesbian Ashley Lunkenheimer, a former assistant U.S. Attorney, placed third.

But the primary included races at all levels. At present, Briam Sims is the only openly gay person in the state legislature, where homophobic remarks from fellow legislators are not unknown.

There’s a good chance that will change come November. Malcolm Kenyatta won the Democratic nomination for an open seat in the state House of Representatives. Kenyatta’s victory came in spite of a last-minute effort to attack him with anti-gay posters featuring him and his ex-husband. Since the seat is traditionally Democratic, Kenyatta is favored to win.

Also winning her race was Kristin Seale, a nonprofit healthcare executive, who beat her closest opponent by fewer than 100 votes. Seale, who would be the first LGBTQ woman in the state House of Representatives, was part of a wave of successful progressive candidates endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America. Seale will be facing a Republican incumbent in November.

In other states, LGBTQ incombents easily won their party’s nomination, including Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon state Rep. Karin Power, and Idaho state Rep. John McCrostie.

The success of the candidates wasn’t the only good news on Tuesday. Raul Labrador, a reliably antigay Republican, gave up his seat in Congress to seek the GOP nomination for governor of Idaho.

Turns out that was a bad idea. Labrador lost the race and now has no job.

Labrador was a staunch opponent of marriage equality, introducing legislation that would have allowed people to sue the federal government if they felt their religious liberty was violated because of same-sex marriage.

Of course, Russ Felcher, the Republican who won the nomination for Labrador’s seat, is hardly any better. As a state legislator who identified with the Tea Party, Felcher advocated a statewide marriage equality ban and fought against domestic partnership rights.


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