Danica Roem — Photo courtesy of Danica Roem
In a historic first for Virginia, there will be seven LGBTQ candidates competing in elections this year, including the first three out lesbians and the first out transgender woman, Danica Roem, to win a party’s nomination.
In the 13th House District, Roem won a four-way primary to take on Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas), a longtime adversary of the LGBTQ community and the sponsor of Virginia’s “bathroom bill.”
“It feels like we need to knock on 20,000 more doors in the next four-and-a-half months in order to win this race,” says Roem. “So I’m calling on every reader of Metro Weekly who cares about equality, who cares about transportation, who cares about quality-of-life issues, to come to the 13th District and help me win this race.”
In the 96th District, Kelly DeLucia will face Del. Brenda Pogge (R-James City), while Dawn Adams will face Del. Manoli Loupassi (R-Richmond) in the 68th District and Rebecca Colaw will run for an open seat in the 64th District, which spans much of the Tidewater area.
“It’s an important thing for us to get involved in the Democratic process, and for us to vote. It’s important for us not to be silent anymore,” says Colaw, who has been campaigning with only two staffers across a large, gerrymandered district. “I’m really glad that the District is looking to move forward and get things done, because that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
Also appearing on the ballot this fall will be Del. Mark Sickles (D-Huntington) in the 43rd District, Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) in the 45th District, and Ben Hixon, who will take on Del. Matt Freitas (R-Culpeper) in the 30th District.
On the GOP side, Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Upperville) — who has been key to ensuring passage of nondiscrimination legislation in the Republican-controlled Senate– won her party’s nomination for lieutenant governor.
Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), who lost to Vogel, had issued fliers lambasting Vogel for her support of nondiscrimination protections, and for supporting the nomination of Tracy Thorne-Begland, the first out gay judge in the commonwealth. Reeves painted himself as the preferred choice for social conservatives.
The night also proved successful for other pro-LGBT allies, most notably in the governor’s race, where Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam won the Democratic primary over former Congressman Tom Perriello. Northam was previously endorsed by Equality Virginia, and has long been a supporter of nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Virginians in housing and employment.
Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker praised her party’s nominees up and down the ballot as examples of candidates who fight for “Virginia values” while Republicans, led by GOP gubernatorial contenders Ed Gillespie and Corey Stewart, are “out of step” with the voters of the commonwealth.
“Our House of Delegates candidates are so progressive, including the LGBTQ candidates we have, and we just couldn’t be prouder of showing what the state of the true commonwealth of Virginia is,” Swecker told Metro Weekly. “We found out today there was a lot more enthusiasm in the Democratic primary than the Republican one. The Republicans are kind of lethargic, in my opinion.”
Equality Virginia’s Political Action Committee (EVPAC) had previously endorsed Roem and Northam in their respective primaries.
“We are very pleased to see both candidates endorsed by Equality Virginia’s Political Action Committee win their primary races,” James Parrish, executive director of EVPAC, said in a statement. “Going into the fall elections, we have a record-breaking seven LGBT candidates, including Virginia’s first ever transgender candidate, in House of Delegates races across the state.
“We will work to ensure the winners for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General are individuals committed to including LGBT folks in their vision for an inclusive commonwealth. We’ll also continue our work to increase the number of House of Delegates members who support full equality for LGBT Virginians.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include feedback from Equality Virginia’s Political Action Committee.