Metro Weekly

Former President Barack Obama endorses 17 LGBTQ candidates for office

President is often deployed as a surrogate for Democratic candidates to gin up turnout among liberal voters

Photo: Barack Obama. Credit: Christopher Dilts/Obama for America.

Former President Barack Obama has thrown his support behind an additional 17 openly LGBTQ candidates for various federal and state offices, bringing the total of LGBTQ endorsements he’s made to 22.

Obama, who has hit the campaign trail in a limited capacity for some Democratic candidates, sees gaining control of Congress as essential to reversing some of the harmful policies advanced by the Trump administration during their first two years in office.

The former president is often deployed as a surrogate for Democratic candidates in strongly Democratic areas of states or swing districts in order to help turn out base voters who will be essential to successfully taking back control of either chamber of Congress.

He previously endorsed several candidates, including five who identify as LGBTQ: U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), California congressional candidate Katie Hill, and three state legislative candidates.

In his second round of endorsements, Obama threw his support behind incumbent U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who is seeking outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake’s Senate seat. Some of his more prominent endorsements include incumbent Gov. Kate Brown (D-Ore.), gubernatorial nominee Christine Hallquist of Vermont, and congressional candidates Lauren Baer of Florida, Angie Craig of Minnesota, Sharice Davids of Kansas, Gina Ortiz Jones of Texas, and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire.

All 22 of Obama’s LGBTQ endorsements have previously been backed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

“President Obama is endorsing candidates who are passionate about public service and committed to making a positive difference in people’s lives, so it is unsurprising so many of our LGBTQ candidates are on the list,” Annise Parker, the former mayor of Houston and president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said in a statement.

“The experiences and struggles of LGBTQ leaders make them authentic, values-driven candidates who understand the pain and difficulties so many are facing right now,” Parker said. “We are part of every community and every constituency — women, people of color, immigrants and religious minorities — and that diversity strengthens and refines our perspectives. LGBTQ people are running for office in historic numbers not just because our community needs us, but because America needs us.”

In total, there are 224 LGBTQ candidates who will appear on the general election ballot this November, out of more than 430 who ran this cycle.

Most are running as Democrats, who have been inspired to run, in part, by their desire to curb some of the worst excesses of Donald Trump’s presidency.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund has endorsed 272 candidates this cycle, in hopes of generating a so-called “Rainbow Wave” that would ensure the LGBTQ community has a voice at the table when major policy decisions are being made that could impact their lives, livelihood, or well-being. 

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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