Lupe Valdez (left) and Gina Ortiz Jones – Photo: Facebook.
Texas Democrats selected four out LGBTQ candidates as their party’s nominees in Tuesday’s runoff elections.
Lupe Valdez, the former sheriff of Dallas County, defeated Andrew White, a businessman and the son of former Gov. Mark White, in the runoff for governor. Valdez will be the first out lesbian gubernatorial nominee of any major political party — a historic milestone. If elected, Valdez would become the first out LGBTQ governor of color in the United States, and the first Latina to serve as governor of Texas.
Voters in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, which runs along the Texas-Mexico border, spanning from suburban El Paso to San Antonio, selected Gina Ortiz Jones as their nominee for the general election. If elected, she would become the first openly LGBTQ woman of color and the first openly LGBTQ Asian-American woman to serve in Congress.
Eric Holguin, an out gay Latino, won his runoff in Texas’ 27th Congressional District, a swath of southeastern Texas spanning from Corpus Christi to the Austin suburbs. In Texas’ 3rd Congressional District, based in the northern suburbs of Dallas, voters selected Lorie Burch, an out lesbian, as their nominee.
Both Valdez and Ortiz Jones have been endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, an organization that advocates for greater LGBTQ representation in government.
Victory Fund CEO and former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, released a statement in response to their victories.
“Tonight Texans made history by making Lupe Valdez the first openly lesbian woman to win the gubernatorial nomination from a major political party — the latest in a series of groundbreaking wins for LGBTQ candidates in the state,” Parker said. “While bigoted state legislators in Austin continue to divide the state and target our community, Texans are voting for LGBTQ candidates because we are authentic, values-driven leaders who deliver on promises. That is why Lupe won, and we will work hard to expose Governor Abbott’s cynical politics of divisiveness and showcase Lupe’s positive agenda for Texans over the next five months.”
Of Ortiz Jones, Parker said: “Gina is on-track to shatter the lavender ceiling and become the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Texas. Yet Gina resonated with primary voters not because of her sexual orientation, but because she is the antithesis of the acrimony and self-interest that dominates Washington. America needs thoughtful leaders like Gina now more than ever, and her victory proves voters will choose authentic LGBTQ candidates who prioritize issues that positively affect people’s lives.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez issued a statement congratulating all the Democratic nominees who have won their races in all the states that have held primaries held so far, including Texas. The party also issued a statement recognizing the LGBTQ Texans who won Tuesday night.
“LGBTQ candidates like Lupe Valdez, Gina Ortiz Jones, Eric Holguin and Lorie Burch are making history, not only in Texas but across the country,” Lucas Acosta, the DNC’s Director of LGBTQ media, said in a statement.
“With LGBTQ people and our rights under attack by Republicans in state legislatures, Congress and the White House, our community is stepping up, running for office and fighting back,” Acosta said. “As we saw Tuesday night in Texas, Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas, Democrats are harnessing the grassroots energy and leading with our values of fairness and opportunity to get elected by voters in November.”
Democratic voters in other states have also chosen LGBTQ as their nominees in at least two other congressional races. In Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, covering the southern suburbs and exurbs of Columbus, out gay man Rick Neal will be challenging NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers. In Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, an out lesbian, will challenge longtime Congressman Greg Walden, former NRCC chair. If elected, either would become the first LGBTQ person elected to Congress from their respective states.
Democrats have also nominated out LGBTQ people, including several LGBTQ people of color, for various state legislative races in Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Editor’s note: This post was updated to include comment from the Democratic National Committee.