Metro Weekly

Victory Fund endorses Dan Baer in Colorado’s 2020 U.S. Senate race

Openly gay former State Department official seeks to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner, who opposes LGBTQ rights

Dan Baer – Photo: Facebook.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, the national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office, officially endorsed Dan Baer, a former State Department official, for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

Baer previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor during President Obama’s first term, and U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe during Obama’s second term. If elected, he would become the first openly gay man in the U.S. Senate and the third openly LGBTQ person to serve in the chamber.

Victory Fund’s endorsement comes a week after Baer’s campaign announced a record-breaking $1.35 million fundraising haul in the second quarter — the largest ever initial fundraising support for an openly LGBTQ congressional candidate.

“Coloradans led the country by electing America’s first openly gay governor in 2018 — and in 2020 they will make history again in sending the first out gay man to the U.S. Senate,” Annise Parker, a former Houston mayor who now serves as President and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

“Never before has an openly LGBTQ Congressional candidate reported such strong initial fundraising numbers — an important indicator, given LGBTQ candidates for high-level office are often underestimated early in their campaigns,” Parker added. “But Dan’s authentic and values-driven approach to politics is resonating with voters, and there is no better candidate to take on anti-LGBTQ incumbent Cory Gardner than a person so deeply affected by the discriminatory positions Gardner promotes.”

Gardner, who was narrowly elected to the Senate in the 2014 Republican wave over then-Sen. Mark Udall, was called out by the Colorado Times Recorder for his anti-LGBTQ record after appearing at a May fundraiser hosted by American Unity Fund, a conservative pro-LGBTQ group. For the session of the 115th Congress (from 2017 to 2019), Gardner received a score of 12 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Equality Scorecard, down from his score of 16 during the 114th Congress. He also received a perfect 100% rating from the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council for his work during the 115th Congress.

Gardner has voted to confirm almost all of Trump’s judicial picks, despite concerns over their anti-LGBTQ records, has failed to co-sponsor pro-LGBTQ bills like the Equality Act and the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, and voted against an amendment in 2015 allowing same-sex partners to receive access to the Social Security and veterans benefits their spouses have earned.

Baer is one of 12 Democrats currently seeking the party’s nomination to take on Gardner. Other declared candidates include: Ellen Burnes, a Colorado State University professor and former chair of the Boulder County Democratic Party; Lorena Garcia, a community organizer; former U.S. Attorney John Walsh; State Sen. Angela Williams; Alice Madden, the former majority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives; Andrew Romanoff, the former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives and a 2014 congressional candidate for the state’s 6th congressional district, which covers the Denver suburbs; and Stephany Rose Spaulding, a University of Colorado professor and 2018 nominee for the state’s 5th congressional district, based in Colorado Springs.

For his part, Baer wrote on Facebook and on Twitter that he was honored to receive Victory Fund’s endorsement.

“Proud to have the endorsement of a group that backs an incredible slate of highly qualified progressive leaders and public servants dedicated to bringing substantive change and empathy back to our politics,” he wrote. “Thanks @VictoryFund!”

Victory Fund previously endorsed Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), an out lesbian, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who is bisexual, during their successful 2018 Senate campaigns. The organization recently announced its endorsement of Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.

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

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