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Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) has announced his intention to run for lieutenant governor of the commonwealth, a move that, if successful, would make him the first out LGBTQ official elected statewide.
Sims, a self-described progressive, announced his run on Facebook, with a post reading: “I’M RUNNING. After 10 years in the State House, I’ve taken the lessons that my parents taught me and reinforced them in my work as a legislator: to take responsibility, commit to service, be courageous, and push for fairness.
“I’m ready to take these values from representing our state’s largest city to leading the Commonwealth,” he added. “Join me in striving for kindness, equity, and justice.”
The Sims campaign also released a video to mark his entry into the race.
Sims made history as the first out LGBTQ member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly after he challenged and defeated 28-year incumbent Babette Josephs in the 2012 Democratic primary. He had previously made history by becoming the first NCAA football captain to come out as gay while playing defensive tackle for Bloomsburg State University.
“I think every day about the values that my Army officer parents instilled in me: to take responsibility, to show empathy, to have courage, and to be authentic,” Sims says in the video announcement of his entry into the race.
A crusader for social and economic justice who often adopts a position of righteous indignation, Sims has been outspoken in his criticism of how the General Assembly operates and its legislative priorities, which has led Republicans to paint him as a political bogeyman.
As a state lawmaker, Sims has frequently clashed with Republicans who dominate the General Assembly over issues ranging from budget cuts to LGBTQ rights to the refusal of some of his GOP colleagues to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In May, he alleged that Republican leaders did not inform Democratic lawmakers after a member of the GOP caucus had tested positive for COVID-19.
In August, Sims and fellow gay State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) took to Twitter to criticize a retiring fellow lawmaker, former Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Philadelphia), for introducing an LGBTQ rights bill in what the two Democrats alleged was part of a “performative” election-year stunt designed to help vulnerable Republicans in swing districts shore up their “moderate” brand name. Murt later alleged that Sims threatened him in a profanity-laced tirade over the phone, prompting Murt to contact local police because he claimed he feared for his safety.
Both state and national Republicans have also sought to portray him as an unhinged, short-tempered, and irrational leftist, pointing to a video he posted of himself heckling anti-abortion protesters, including three teenage girls, outside an abortion clinic in his district in 2019. In the video, Sims said he’d give money to anyone who could help successfully identify the anti-abortion protesters, leading critics to accuse him of leading a “doxxing” campaign.
Following that incident — which will undoubtedly be raised in the campaign — almost half of his House Republican colleagues signed onto a measure to censure him, but the measure died after he apologized to the mother of two of the girls involved in the protest.
Nonetheless, Sims claims he’s actually been able to work with people across the aisle and implores viewers to get involved to fix what dysfunction exists in Harrisburg.
“We are the antidote to broken politics,” he says in the campaign launch video. “My time in the Pennsylvania legislature has taught me a lot about not only how Pennsylvania government works, but a lot about how it doesn’t. It’s taught me a lot about how to work with people who don’t always agree with me. I think it’s time for me to take what I’ve learned in the House, and to be able to bring that leadership to the direct service of the governor.
“We need adults in the room,” he adds, “and I want to bring bold visionary leadership based on lived experience and shared values to the Commonwealth.”
See Sims’ announcement video below:
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