Metro Weekly

53 LGBTQ Candidates Were on The Ballot Tuesday. Here’s How They Fared.

Several LGBTQ candidates either won outright or earned berths in runoff elections following the "Super Tuesday" primaries.

Photo: ra2studio via 123rf

Several LGBTQ candidates were successful in yesterday’s “Super Tuesday” primaries, with some winning their party’s nomination and others moving on to runoff elections.

Candidates appeared on the ballot in six different states: Texas, California, Arkansas, Tennessee, Vermont, and North Carolina, with several candidates poised to become historic “firsts” should they emerge victorious in general elections later this year. 

In Texas, Molly Cook, running in the Houston-based 15th State Senate District, placed second, with 21% of the vote.

Because none of the Democratic candidates in the primary reached the 50% plus one vote threshold needed to win the primary, Cook will face off against State Rep. Jarvis Johnson in a runoff election on May 28.

In the Texas House of Representatives, Mo Jenkins emerged as the Democratic Party’s candidate for House District 139 in the Houston area. If victorious in November, she could become the first out transgender person elected to any office in Texas state history.

Meanwhile, in District 146, progressive candidate Lauren Ashley Simmons finished first, ahead of State. Rep. Shawn Thierry (D-Houston), who voted for a bill to block transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming health treatments

It remains unclear whether Simmons will reach the 50% plus one vote threshold to avoid a runoff election.

“Our race is still too close to call,” Simmons tweeted. “With votes still being counted, we have 49.53% of the vote! This is great news: We either win outright or we lead going into a runoff. We will keep you posted. Thank you for the amazing support!”

In other races, incumbent State Reps. Venton Jones (D-Dallas), Jolanda Jones (D-Houston), and Josey Garcia (D-San Antonio) won their respective primaries, earning a berth in November’s general election. However, at the same time, incumbent Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg lost her primary race.

In a race for the U.S. Congress, State Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Dallas) received more than the required number of votes needed to avoid a runoff for the state’s 32nd Congressional District seat. The seat is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, who won the primary for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican  Sen. Ted Cruz for one of the state’s two U.S. Senate seats. 

In California, Steve Hansen, an attorney and LGBTQ advocate, appears to have garnered one of two spots for the runoff election for the mayoralty of Sacramento.

In Los Angeles, Ethan Weaver placed second for the District 4 City Council race, earning a berth in the November runoff election. If elected, Weaver would restore LGBTQ representation on the Council, which has been without a single LGBTQ member since former Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell lost his re-election bid two years ago.

In California’s Coachelle Valley, Palm Springs City Councilmember Lisa Middleton emerged as the Democratic Party’s nominee in the 19th State Senate District race, while fellow Palm Springs Councilmember Christy Holstege emerged as the party’s nominee in Assembly District 47.

Both will face Republican challengers in the “top-two” general election, with Middleton potentially becoming the state’s first transgender legislator and Holstege its first bisexual legislator.

In the race for the 41st Congressional District, Will Rollins, an out gay man who was the 2022 Democratic nominee against Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, also advanced to the general election.

However, gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) failed to place in the top two in the state’s 16th Congressional District race for a Silicon Valley-area seat.

In North Carolina, Durham County Attorney Satana Deberry fell short in her primary for Attorney General against Democratic U.S. Rep. Jeff Jackson, who ran after his congressional district was heavily gerrymandered in favor of Republicans.

But all three of the state’s out lesbian members of the legislature — State Reps. Allison Dahle and Vernetta Alston, and State Sen. Lisa Grafstein — won their respective primaries, as did gay Forsyth District Court Judge Whit Davis. 

In Arkansas, lesbian State Rep. Tippi McCullough (D-Little Rock) was renominated for re-election. In Tennessee, gay candidate Matthew Park won the Democratic primary for the Knox County Commission District 9 seat, while gay candidate Zach Young won his primary for the District 3 seat on the Metro Nashville School Board.

In Vermont, progressive State Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak won the general election for the Burlington mayor’s race, becoming the first woman and first LGBTQ person to lead the city, according to VT Digger.

Meanwhile, the city of Winooski, Vermont, elected two LGBTQ candidates to office: incumbent City Councilmember Bryn Oakleaf, who is queer, and Charles Judge, a transgender man running for an open seat. They join out gay Councilmembers Thomas Renner, and Aurora Hurd, who is bisexual, nonbinary, and transgender, on the council. Of the city’s five representatives, only Mayor Kristine Lott does not identify as LGBTQ.

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