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LGBTQ Victory Fund, the national organization dedicated to electing out LGBTQ leaders to public office, has endorsed Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) in his 2022 bid to become the commonwealth’s next lieutenant governor.
If elected, Sims would be one of the first out LGBTQ lieutenant governors in U.S. history and one of the first, if not the first out LGBTQ person elected to statewide office in the Keystone State.
Currently, there are only eight LGBTQ individuals in the United States who have ever been elected statewide, including two governors — Oregon’s Kate Brown and Colorado’s Jared Polis — and Josh Tenorio, currently the lieutenant governor of Guam.
If successful, Sims and fellow State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2022, would become the ninth and tenth out LGBTQ people to be elected statewide.
LGBTQ Victory Fund threw its support behind Sims, calling him a “fierce and outspoken voice for equality not just for the LGBTQ community, but for all marginalized Pennsylvanians.”
“[Sims] remained on the frontlines despite homophobic slurs and death threats, exposing politicians opposed to equality and defending those who stood up against them,” Annise Parker, the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “That courage is what Pennsylvanians need in a lieutenant governor — a leader like Brian who can focus Harrisburg on issues that improve people’s lives, not wedge issues meant to divide. While a statewide victory for Brian in a key swing state would be a milestone moment in LGBTQ political history, more importantly, it would be a win for all underserved communities throughout Pennsylvania.”
The Victory Fund endorsement marks the first one Sims has received from a national organization.
“Decisions are made by the people at the table, that’s why over the past 30 years Victory Fund has done more than any other organization to put LGBTQ voices at the table and in the room,” Sims said in a statement. “Victory Fund knows that when LGBTQ elected leaders are in the room, so are the voices and experiences of our communities — that’s why I’m incredibly proud to be endorsed by Victory Fund in my race for Lt. Governor and together we will continue to fight for a more equal Pennsylvania.”
The endorsement is significant, indicating that LGBTQ Victory Fund believes Sims has a viable path to both the Democratic nomination and in the general election. Sims is the second statewide candidate from Pennsylvania endorsed by LGBTQ Victory Fund, following its announcement that it is backing Kenyatta’s Senate bid.
Sims, who made history in 2012 when he became the first out LGBTQ person elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature, has made a name for himself as an outspoken, progressive-leaning lawmaker during his time in Harrisburg, albeit one who ruffles feathers with many of his statements or positions.
Sims has frequently called out Republicans in Harrisburg for failing to pass worker-friendly policies, their lukewarm support of, or outright opposition to, bills to expand LGBTQ rights, their attempts to restrict access to voting, and their lack of serious response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also courted controversy after he filmed himself confronting anti-abortion protesters, including teenage girls, outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in his neighborhood.
Sims currently faces Mark Pinsley, the controller of Lehigh County, in the Democratic primary. State Rep. Austin Davis (D-McKeesport) has also expressed interest in running. The winner will likely face former Pittsburgh-area legislative candidate Jerry Carnicella, who is currently the only Republican to announce he’s seeking the state’s second-highest position — although more candidates may jump into the fray.
Earlier this year, lawmakers in Harrisburg attempted to change how lieutenant governors are elected, leaving it in the hands of the gubernatorial nominees of each party instead of having them independently elected. That bill failed to pass this session, but could be revived in a future legislative session.
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