Metro Weekly

Human Rights Campaign’s PAC issues endorsements in 5 U.S. Senate races

For the third year in a row, the LGBTQ rights organization hopes political endorsements will spur pro-equality voters to the polls

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(Clockwise from top left) U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, Sen. Doug Jones (center), Jaime Harrison, Mark Kelly, Sen. Gary Peters – Photos: Facebook.

The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed two incumbent senators, a sitting U.S. congressman, and two challengers seeking election to five U.S. Senate seats in 2020.

The endorsed candidates are: U.S. Sens. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.); U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who is seeking the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Udall; Jaime Harrison, who is challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); and Mark Kelly, who is challenging Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.).

HRC also previously endorsed U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), who won a special election in 2018 and will now be running for a full six-year term for the seat once held by Sen. Al Franken.

Under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Republicans have refused to take up a number of bills that have been approved by the Democratic-led House.

Pointing to the importance of passing the sweeping LGBTQ rights bill known as the Equality Act, HRC hopes that its 2020 endorsements will assist Democrats in holding onto their current U.S. Senate seats and flipping Republican-held seats to give Democrats the majority — thereby ensuring that the Equality Act, as well as other bills, receive a floor vote.

“Across America, LGBTQ people are fired from jobs, refused essential services like health care, and vulnerable to violence because of Senator McConnell’s failure to bring the Equality Act up for a vote,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “When these candidates are elected as part of a pro-equality majority, the U.S. Senate can pick up where the House left off and finally pass the Equality Act. HRC is working to mobilize 57 million Equality Voters nationwide to turn out this November and ensure our candidates win because lives are on the line.”

In 2019, when faced with a similar situation in the Republican-led Virginia General Assembly, HRC endorsed a number of candidates for elective office, sent staffers to help campaigns with get-out-the-vote efforts, and invested significant financial resources in the state to place Democrats in charge of both the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates.

Those moves have already begun reaping rewards as Democrats have been quickly passing bills to expand LGBTQ rights in the commonwealth. 

A year earlier, during the 2018 midterms, HRC registered more than 32,000 “Equality Voters” — defined as those for whom a candidate’s stances on LGBTQ issues are important in determining how they will vote — as well as recruiting volunteers to help pro-equality congressional candidates throughout the country get elected in order to serve as a check on actions taken by the Trump administration.

For what will be the third year in a row, the organization hopes that its endorsements will encourage pro-equality voters throughout the nation to turn out at the polls and support Democrats seeking U.S. Senate seats. The organization has yet to endorse in at least four other states with competitive races, most notably Maine and Colorado.

“With a new pro-equality Senate majority, we have the opportunity not just to pass the Equality Act, but ensure access to quality, affordable health care is protected, common-sense gun safety legislation can be considered, voting rights can be advanced, and anti-equality judges are not put on our federal courts and the Supreme Court,” HRC noted in a press release.

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

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