Metro Weekly

LGBTQ Victory Fund endorses N.Y. Councilman Ritchie Torres for Congress

LGBTQ group calls Torres' opponent, Ruben Diaz, Sr., "one of the most homophobic Democrats in the nation"

Ritchie Torres – Photo: Facebook.

Openly gay New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) is getting a boost in his campaign for Congress, earning the endorsement of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, the national organization dedicated to electing out LGBTQ individuals to public office.

Torres recently jumped into the race for New York’s 15th Congressional District seat, which is vacant after incumbent U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, who has held the seat for the past 29 years, announced he would not seek re-election in 2020 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. 

Torres’ chief primary opponent is his fellow Councilman Ruben Diaz, Sr., a Pentecostal minister and longtime politician who previously served in the State Senate, where he amassed a record of opposing measures to expand LGBTQ rights. The winner of the primary is favored in the general election given the Democratic tilt of the district.

If elected, Torres would become the first openly LGBTQ Afro-Latino ever elected to Congress. 

In a release announcing its endorsement of Torres, the LGBTQ Victory Fund called Diaz “one of the most anti-LGBTQ Democrats in the entire nation” — a reference to his opposition to LGBTQ rights and his courting of anti-LGBTQ figures, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), whom Diaz invited to his district to help the senator court conservative black and Latino evangelical voters in Cruz’s bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Part of the Victory Fund’s calculus in deciding to endorse a candidate is their ability to raise the money necessary to carry out a campaign, including get-out-the-vote efforts. In the second quarter of 2019, Torres raised $522,000, compared to Diaz’s $80,776.

“This is among the most important Democratic Congressional primaries of 2020, with voters choosing between one of the most homophobic Democrats in the nation and an openly gay man who champions equality,” Annise Parker, a former mayor of Houston and the president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement.

“Ritchie will become the first openly LGBTQ Afro-Latinx person ever elected to Congress when he wins in 2020 — adding a crucial voice to a Congress where people of color and LGBTQ people are severely underrepresented. The South Bronx deserves a leader who uses their position to champion the urban poor and other underserved communities, not a man who uses his platform to denigrate his own constituents because they are women or LGBTQ.”

Victory Fund’s endorsement of Torres is just its fifth federal endorsement for the 2020 election cycle. The organization has also endorsed South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg for President of the United States, Dan Baer for U.S. Senate, and Gina Ortiz Jones and Jon Hoadley for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Torres expressed his gratitude to Victory Fund for its endorsement.

“This primary presents a stark choice: between a progressive new guard and a reactionary old guard; between an LGBTQ trailblazer and a vicious homophobe; between a new generation of leadership and more of the same,” he said in a statement. “This endorsement makes clear that this race is of upmost importance to the LGBTQ community and will have a profound impact on the types of policies that are pushed in Washington, D.C. to impact LGBTQ people.”

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

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