Election Commentary

8 queer candidates to watch closely on Election Day

Charmaine McGuffey lesbian Ohio Sherriff campaign ad
Photo: Twitter screenshot

Hundreds of LGBTQ candidates are on the ballot in races across the country. Not only could these candidates bring about another rainbow wave on November 3rd, but many are also poised to become the first out politicians to hold their respective offices.

LGBTQ Nation has spent months speaking with these history-making candidates. On Election Day, here are eight notable races to keep your eye on.

Related: Voting deadlines, registration & what’s at stake for LGBTQ voters in 2020

Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres: New York 

Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones
Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones Composite

Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres are preparing to collectively become the nation’s first out gay Black LGBTQ congressmen.

In June, Torres made headlines for his landslide primary victory against his notoriously anti-LGBTQ opponent, Ruben Diaz Sr. Running in the South Bronx in the most Democratic district in the country, Torres is more or less guaranteed to win.

Jones, too, has gained attention across the United States for his progressive platform and the historic nature of his campaign.

“I think I am uniquely situated to galvanize communities that have historically been shut out of the political process,” he told LGBTQ Nation last November, “and leverage that to apply pressure on Republicans in Congress who are not speaking to the views of most Americans, who are being allowed to get by because so many people are disillusioned with our politics that they’re not paying attention to what’s going on and they’re not holding their representatives accountable.”

Sarah McBride: Delaware

Delaware State Senate Candidate, Sarah McBride
Delaware State Senate Candidate, Sarah McBride Provided

Sarah McBride is on her way to becoming one of the first out transgender state senators in the country—and the first out LGBTQ person in the Delaware State Legislature.

McBride is currently the Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary. She was also the first out transgender woman to intern at the White House. And in 2016, she was the first out transgender person to address a major party convention at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

“Time and time again, I’ve had the opportunity to see there is space for people of all different backgrounds, including trans people, in our politics,” she told LGBTQ Nation in February.

“Growing up, it seemed like there was no place for someone like me. And there were certainly no examples of someone like me participating publicly, let alone having a seat at the table in a leadership capacity. Piece by piece, I was able to see just how wrong that understandable fear was.”

Charmaine McGuffey: Ohio 

Lesbian Charmaine McGuffey was fired from the Hamilton County, Ohio sheriff’s office over her sexuality. A natural fighter, she refused to stand for it. McGuffey ran for Sheriff in the Democratic primary against the man that fired her—and won. Now, she is on her way to being Hamilton County’s first woman and first out sheriff.

McGuffey hopes to bring much-needed progressive change to the role in regards to both justice reform and police accountability.

“[My election] would mean that our country is moving forward,” she told LGBTQ Nation in March“that we really have moved away from the 1950s model of law enforcement, where not just women are embraced in the law enforcement world, but also LGBTQ members of the community can wear a uniform and be quite successful.”

Kim Jackson: Georgia 

Kim Jackson, candidate for Georgia state senate Photo by Cindy Brown

 Lesbian priest Kim Jackson could become Georgia’s first out LGBTQ state senator.

“Georgia needs desperately a progressive voice that is theologically trained who can speak directly to those issues,” she told LGBTQ Nation in March, “and talk about the ways there’s A) a separation between church and state that we need to respect and also B)… our Christian theology is bigger and broader than what they’ve been bringing to the floor.”

Jackson’s church focuses on serving Atlanta’s homeless population, so affordable housing remains a huge priority for her. She also wants to prioritize equitable school funding, voting rights protection, gun safety legislation, and Medicaid expansion.

Gina Ortiz Jones: Texas

Gina Ortiz Jones Campaign

Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, an Air Force and Iraq War veteran, is fighting to become the first out LGBTQ congressperson from Texas.

Jones is a first-generation American. She grew up in subsidized housing with a reliance on reduced lunch programs. In April, she told LGBTQ Nation that these programs were a critical investment in her future. As such, she will continue to fight hard for programs that protect vulnerable communities

“I always say I am running very simply to protect the opportunities that allowed me to grow up healthy, get an education, and serve our country,” she said.

Jessica Katzenmeyer: Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Assembly Candidate, Jessica Katzenmeyer Holly Moreno

In a close race, Jessica Katzenmeyer is working to become the first transgender member of the Wisconsin State Assembly.

“It’d be such an honor,” she recently told LGBTQ Nation. “It really will be. But my campaign is focused on me being the better choice here than my opponent, [incumbent Republican Joe Sanfelippo].”

Katzenmeyer’s priority is accessible and affordable healthcare for all, including mental healthcare. Currently a rideshare driver, she told LGBTQ Nation that being an “average person” helps her connect with her constituents:

“I’m an average person. I’ve had to work two part-time jobs to make ends meet. I’ve had to work overnights before for over twelve years. I understand it. I understand what people struggle through.”

Anne Johnson: Texas

Texas House Candidate Ann Johnson
Texas House Candidate Ann Johnson Provided

In one of the most significant state races in Texas, lesbian Anne Johnson is fighting to help flip the Texas House blue.

Running against Republican incumbent Sarah Davis, Johnson told LGBTQ Nation in September that she is tired of the hold Republicans have had on her home state:

“This district is looking at somebody who will not only fight for their interests, but get things done across the aisle. I’m a native Houstonian. I grew up in Texas… and when I was growing up, the strength of Texas meant we made decisions that were good for our people, not our politics.”

A former human trafficking prosecutor, Johnson helped create a national legal framework for protecting child victims of sexual exploitation. She has built up a reputation as a fighter and is known for arguing a historic case before nine Republican Texas Supreme Court judges—and winning.

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