Congressional challengers (clockwise from top left) Wendy Davis, Jackie Gordon, Sri Kulkarni, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, Marie Newman, Jill Schupp, Eugene DePasquale, and Kathy Manning – Photos: Facebook.
The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed 16 candidates challenging incumbent members of Congress as part of an effort to expand the number of pro-equality members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The national LGBTQ rights organization threw its weight behind several candidates in races where Republican incumbents either narrowly won in 2018, or where political realignment is occurring, a shift in which districts that have higher numbers of college-educated, more affluent white voters are becoming more supportive of Democrats — part of a larger national trend.
The endorsed challengers in “realigning” districts — where pickups are more likely to happen, given Trump and Republicans’ higher disapproval ratings among college degree-holders, include: Hiral Tipirneni, challenging U.S. Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.); Christine Hale, running for the open seat held by Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.); Jill Schupp, who is challenging Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.); Wendy Davis, challenging Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas); and Sri Preston Kulkarni, seeking the seat held by Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas).
Other challengers who were endorsed for Republican-held seats are: Joyce Elliott, challenging Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, challenging Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Dan Feehan, challenging Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.); Jackie Gordon, seeking the seat once held by retiring Rep. Peter King (D-N.Y.), Eugene DePasquale, challenging Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), and Carolyn Long, challenging Jamie Herrera Buetler (R-Wash.).
HRC endorsed non-incumbents in Democratic-held seats, including Kai Kahele for the seat held by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Rita Hart for the seat held by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), and Marie Newman, who unseated Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) in a primary earlier this year. HRC has also endorsed Deborah Ross and Kathy Manning in a pair of North Carolina congressional seats that were redrawn to become more Democratic after it was determined Republican lawmakers had illegally gerrymandered their congressional map to deny Democrats additional representation.
“HRC is proud to endorse these pro-equality champions for the U.S. House of Representatives,” Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “In order to achieve real and lasting change, we must not only reelect a pro-equality majority, but expand it build upon that majority and ensure that the People’s House reflects the diversity of our nation’s people. These candidates represent that opportunity and we look forward to working with them to advance equality for LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities.”
Candidates were endorsed because of their stated support for LGBTQ rights and specifically for the Equality Act, a sweeping piece of civil rights legislation that would enshrine protections for LGBTQ people into law. Other issues that played a role in the endorsement process included a candidate’s support for protecting the Affordable Care Act from being repealed and their support for gun reform measures.
In 2018, HRC endorsed dozens of pro-equality candidates in both chambers and mounted a nationwide effort to register more than 32,000 voters, knock on more than 80,000 doors, and do phone banking on behalf of those pro-equality candidates, in the hope of activating so-called “Equality Voters,” or those for whom a candidate’s stance on LGBTQ issues is highly determinative. The organization has promised to replicate its efforts this year on behalf of additional candidates.
“I am proud to be endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign and to stand with them in the fight for equality, justice and the freedom to live and love freely,” Newman said in a statement. “In America, we value our freedom and the ability to pursue our dreams uninhibited. It’s time that we guarantee that same freedom to all LGBTQ+ Americans by passing The Equality Act and securing protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. I am running for Congress to build an economy that works for everyone, and that means ensuring that every single American has a fair chance to succeed without fear of harassment or discrimination.”
“I am honored to receive the Human Rights Campaign’s endorsement,” Ross said in a statement. “As an attorney, civil rights advocate, and state legislator, I have spent my career fighting for equality, justice, and progress, and opposed laws that would take our state backward, including North Carolina’s Amendment One and HB 2. I look forward to advocating for these issues in Congress so our LGBTQ community can safely and proudly be themselves.”
“We’re honored to have HRC endorse our campaign to bring true representation to TX-22 and look forward to working with them to ensure the issues of TX-22’s LGBTQ community are being heard and addressed,” Kulkarni added. “Our LGBTQ community has suffered from blatant discrimination and deserves basic legal protections to protect them from blatant discrimination. In Congress, I won’t stand down until equality is guaranteed for all.”
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