Metro Weekly

Virginia’s LGBTQ Candidates Win Big in Primaries

Eight candidates seeking seats in Virginia's House of Delegates or Senate will appear on the November ballot as the Democratic nominee.

Photo Illustration: Todd Franson

The Tuesday primary elections in Virginia were successful for LGBTQ General Assembly candidates seeking seats in the commonwealth’s House of Delegates and Senate, with eight of eight LGBTQ candidates emerging victorious. 

In the Senate, Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), the chamber’s sole LGBTQ member, faced no challengers and advanced to the general election in November.

Meanwhile, Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who also faced no Democratic primary challenger, advanced to the general election for the newly-drawn 30th Senate district in Western Prince William County.

She will face off against Republican Bill Woolf, a former police detective, in the general election. 

If successful, Roem will become the upper chamber’s first transgender senator, and only the second transgender person in the country to be elected to a state senate seat, following Delaware’s Sarah McBride.

The newly-created 30th District is considered a competitive seat in the general election, and is critical to Democrats’ chances of maintaining control over the state senate.

In the races for the House of Delegates, six LGBTQ people advanced to the November general election. In southeastern Arlington County, Adele McClure, who identifies as a queer cisgender woman, won the 2nd District Democratic primary.

With no announced general election opponent, she will likely become the first Black and Asian person elected to the General Assembly from Arlington.

In Fairfax County, voters selected three out individuals:

  • Fairfax County School Board Member Laura Jane Cohen, who is bisexual, in the Burke-based 15th District.
  • Incumbent Del. Mark Sickles (D), who is gay in the Franconia-based 17th District.
  • Rozia Henson, an out gay federal contractor and consultant, who emerged victorious from a three-way primary in a district straddling the Fairfax County-Prince William County line, running from Lorton down to Woodbridge. 

Former Del. Joshua Cole (D-Fredericksburg), who won in a Democratic “wave” year in 2019 and lost in a gerrymandered, Republican-leaning district in 2021 — due in part to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s coattails — is running for election in the more compact and competitive 65th House District, covering southern Stafford County and the city of Fredericksburg in its entirety.

If elected, Cole, who came out as bisexual after first being elected in 2019, and Henson — who faces no Republican challenger in November — would jointly become the first out LGBTQ Black men ever elected to the Virginia legislature.

L-R Top Row: Adam Ebbin, Danica Roem, Laura Jane Cohen, Joshua Cole
L-R Bottom Row: Kelly Convirs-Fowler, Rozia Henson, Adele McClure, Mark Sickles

Lastly, incumbent Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler (D-Virginia Beach), who is bisexual, won a competitive four-way primary in the Democratic-leaning 96th House District. Convirs-Fowler had previously not filed to run for re-election but later changed course and jumped into the race for the newly-redrawn district.

She came out last year, but if successful in November, she would be the first out Asian-American LGBTQ person elected to the legislature. 

All eight Democrats are either heavily favored in Democratic-leaning districts or have a reasonable chance of winning in swing districts in November — meaning that the LGBTQ caucus in the General Assembly could be the largest in commonwealth history if all are elected.

That increase, from five currently out members of the General Assembly to eight, would mark a 60% increase in LGBTQ representation in one year.

“Representation is power,” said Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. “Tonight’s wins are a clear sign that despite increased homophobia and transphobia, the LGBTQ+ community refuses to back down. Voters are excited about these candidates’ credentials, priorities, and positive visions for the future. Tonight’s results are also a rallying cry to the LGBTQ+ community and our allies to double down in our work to ensure these leaders are successful in November. Our rights depend on it.”

LGBTQ candidates also advanced to the general election in local school board, county supervisor, and city council races. In Fairfax County, Kyle McDaniel, seeking an At-Large position, and Robyn Lady, running for the Dranesville District seat, did not face primaries, as the positions they are seeking are technically nonpartisan — meaning they will appear only on the general election ballot. However, both have been endorsed by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee in their respective races.

In Albemarle County, Navy veteran Michael Pruitt will appear on the general election ballot for the nonpartisan position of Scottsville District representative on the county’s Board of Supervisors. In Southwest Virginia, Big Stone Gap Council Member Tyler Hughes, who is openly gay, is seeking re-election to another nonpartisan office. 

Unfortunately, Arlington County Board candidate Jonathan Dromgoole, who is openly gay, was unsuccessful in his bid for office, placing sixth overall. Due to Arlington’s use of ranked-choice voting in the Democratic primary, Dromgoole’s votes will now be re-allocated to his voters’ second-choice and third-choice options until two candidates pass the 33.3% threshold needed to win the party’s nomination for the general election.

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