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LGBTQ Victory Fund; elections 2021 live results tracker

In 2021, at least 410 out LGBTQ candidates ran for office – more than in any other odd-numbered election year in history

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Dr. Tyler Titus (they/them) is running for county executive in Erie County, Pennsylvania (Screenshot from campaign video)

WASHINGTON – The LGBTQ Victory Fund will track live the election results of 131 LGBTQ endorsed candidates on the ballot, beginning at 7pm ET when the first polls close.  The live results can be seen at victoryfund.org/2021. Victory Fund will also provide live updates on Twitter, including how LGBTQ candidates are faring nationwide.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund works to change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBTQ Americans by increasing the number of openly LGBTQ elected officials at all levels of government.

In 2021, at least 410 out LGBTQ candidates ran for office – more than in any other odd-numbered election year in history – and at least 242 will appear on the ballot in November. Below are eight LGBTQ storylines the Victory Fund team will be watching on Election Night.

Eight LGBTQ Storylines to Watch:

  1. Will America elect more LGBTQ candidates than in any other odd-numbered election year?

With at least 242 out LGBTQ candidates on the ballot next Tuesday, American voters can elect more LGBTQ candidates in 2021 than in any other odd-numbered election year in U.S. history. The previous record, set during the 2019 election cycle, saw 169 LGBTQ candidates elected throughout the year. Forty-two LGBTQ candidates have already won in 2021 – requiring 128 more to win on Election Night to surpass the 2019 odd-number election year record.

  1. Will Tyler Titus become the first trans county executive in U.S. history?

Erie School Board President Tyler Titus (they/them) is running for county executive in Erie County, Pennsylvania and would become the first out trans person in the U.S. to be elected a county executive. Titus would also represent more constituents than any other out trans elected official in history. Titus previously made history when they were elected to the Erie School Board, becoming the first out trans person elected in Pennsylvania.

The victory would be significant as Erie County is considered an election bellwether, not just for the state, but the entire nation. The Hill previously named it one of “10 counties that will decide the 2020 election” – it narrowly voted for Trump in 2016 and for Biden in 2020 – making Titus’ general election an “important test” for trans candidates running in swing districts.

Titus identifies as trans and non-binary. Currently, there are just 43 out trans people and only 11 out non-binary or genderqueer people elected in the entire U.S.

  1. Will LGBTQ mayors of color be elected in Buffalo and Minneapolis?

India Walton won an upset Democratic primary victory against the incumbent mayor and is now the Democratic nominee in the mayoral race for Buffalo, New York. Walton would be the first out LGBTQ mayor of Buffalo if elected and become one of just two Black out LGBTQ women mayors in the entire nation (the other being Lori Lightfoot of Chicago). Despite Democrats making up a majority of Buffalo voters, the incumbent mayor who lost the primary launched a write-in campaign for the general election, complicating the potential outcome.

In Minneapolis, Sheila Nezhad is running for mayor against the incumbent in a non-partisan ranked-choice election. Nezhad would be the first out LGBTQ mayor of a city in the entire state of Minneapolis and one of just four LGBTQ people of color currently serving as mayor of a top 100 U.S. city (or one of five, if Walton wins in Buffalo).

  1. Will LGBTQ school board candidates win as anti-LGBTQ activists and politicians protest inclusion of trans students in schools?

School boards across the nation have faced protests and riotous meetings from anti-LGBTQ activists who oppose trans inclusion in public schools and politicians are increasingly using trans students as a political weapon. In this environment, 12 Victory Fund endorsed LGBTQ candidates are running for school board positions.

Among them is Dion Manley, running in Gahanna, Ohio, who would become one of just six out trans men serving in any position in the entire U.S. Also running are Jae Moyer, who would be the first out non-binary person elected in Kansas if elected to the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees, and running for reelection to the South Orange/Maplewood Board of Education is Shannon Cuttle, who identifies as trans and non-binary.

  1. Will Danica Roem and other Virginia House of Delegates candidates win election or reelection in this closely watched state?

Four of the five currently serving out LGBTQ members of the Virginia House of Delegates are running for reelection this year: Dawn Adams (District 68), Joshua Cole (District 28), Danica Roem (District 13) and Mark Sickles (District 43). Adams and Cole, in particular, have extremely close elections with a close gubernatorial race at the top of the ticket. Cole came out while in office earlier this year, making this the first time he would win as an out LGBTQ candidate. He faces an anti-LGBTQ and anti-BLM activist as an opponent.

Roem – who was the first out trans person to win and serve in a state legislature in the U.S. when she won in 2017 – is again running against an anti-LGBTQ opponent who does not support same-sex adoption or marriage equality. Additionally, non-incumbent Doug Ward (District 18) is running against an incumbent who has repeatedly voted against pro-equality legislation, including non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people.

  1. Will LGBTQ representation on the Atlanta City Council increase exponentially?

Only one out LGBTQ person – Councilmember Antonio Brown – currently serves on the Atlanta City Council, but he is running for mayor and is not seeking reelection. Yet four Victory Fund endorsed LGBTQ candidates are running for the council, including Liliana Bakhtiari (District 5), who would be the first out queer Muslim elected in Georgia history. Also on the ballot are Devin Barrington-Ward (District 9), Kelly-Jeanne Lee (District 1) and former Councilmember Alex Wan (District 6).

  1. Will voters increase LGBTQ representation on the New York City Council by electing a historic group of LGBTQ candidates?

All four LGBTQ incumbent New York City Councilmembers are termed out, but six out LGBTQ candidates are on the ballot looking to replace them. Many will be historic firsts if they win. 

Crystal Hudson (District 35) and Kristin Richardson Jordan (District 9) would be the first two Black out LGBTQ women elected to the council. Lynn Schulman (District 29) and Tiffany Cabán (District 22) would be the first out LGBTQ women elected to any public office from Queens. Chi Ossé (District 36) would be the youngest person ever elected to the council and Erik Bottcher (District 3) would preserve LGBTQ representation in his district, an LGBTQ legacy seat that is home to the Stonewall Inn.

  1. Will New Jersey elect its first out state senator and restore LGBTQ representation to the state legislature?

Army veteran Vincent Solomeno (District 13) is running against an anti-LGBTQ incumbent who voted against marriage equality and LGBTQ-inclusive textbooks in schools. Solomeno will be the first out LGBTQ person ever elected to the New Jersey state Senate if he wins.

Currently, New Jersey is one of just six states to have zero LGBTQ members in either chamber of the state legislature – and the only blue state without LGBTQ members. Either Solomeno, or Victory Fund endorsed candidate Don Guardian (District 2), running for the state Assembly, would restore LGBTQ representation to the state legislature.

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California Politics

Kick Big Tobacco OUT of California Political Campaigns launches

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES — The OUT Against Big Tobacco coalition supported by Equality California Institute launched a pledge last week urging California legislators and candidates to voluntarily refuse campaign contributions from the tobacco industry.

A total of sixteen legislators and candidates have taken the pledge thus far, with more expected to sign on as the 2022 campaign season gets underway.

The pledge was launched in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, a national day in recognition of tobacco users who are looking to quit tobacco for good. LGBTQ+ people are more than TWICE as likely to smoke as our non-LGBTQ+ peers, and nearly 30,000 LGBTQ+ people across the country die every year of tobacco-related causes.

Initial signers of OUT Against Big Tobacco’s pledge not to take tobacco industry campaign contributions include:

  • Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach)
  • Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine)
  • Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)
  • Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona) 
  • Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas)
  • Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach)
  • Annie Cho, candidate for Assembly District 38
  • Supervisor Matt Haney, candidate for Assembly District 17
  • Daniel Hertzberg, candidate for Senate District 18
  • Mayor Christy Holstege, candidate for Assembly District 42
  • Bilal Mahmood, candidate for Assembly District 17
  • Mayor Lily Mei, candidate for Senate District 10
  • Caroline Menjivar, candidate for Senate District 18 
  • Andrea Rosenthal, candidate for Assembly District 36
  • Rick Chavez Zbur, candidate for Assembly District 50

“For decades, Big Tobacco has used their profits to place themselves as friends of our community. This year we are kicking them OUT; out of our Pride, out of our organizations, and out of our politics,” said Equality California Program Manager, Dr. Shannon Kozlovich. “We are calling all 2022 California State legislative candidates to stand with us and pledge to run tobacco free campaigns.

“The tobacco industry is killing our children, killing people of color, killing people that have underlying health conditions. We have to take a stand by not accepting tobacco contributions!” said Senator Lena Gonzalez.

In California’s 2020 Senate and Assembly election cycle, tobacco companies spent $6 million on campaign contributions, while spending millions more lobbying against legislation to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products — products disproportionately targeted towards LGBTQ+ people, people of color and our young people. 

“The tobacco industry serves no purpose other than to make people sick. Tobacco money is not essential for people to win” states Senator Scott Wiener. 

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California Politics

California voters in a new poll say society will completely break down

QUESTION: Agree or disagree: I am worried that a complete breakdown in American society could happen in my lifetime

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Graphic courtesy of Probolsky Research

NEWPORT BEACH – A new poll released last Thursday by Probolsky Research found that a near majority of California voters think that a complete breakdown in American society could happen in the next couple of decades or so where no one shows up to work, armed mobs roam the streets, and the government cannot continue to operate.

QUESTION: Agree or disagree: I am worried that a complete breakdown in American society could happen in my lifetime where no one shows up to work, armed mobs roam the streets, and the government cannot continue to operate.

The results are even more dramatic among Republicans, 69% of whom say they are worried, and those fifty and older who say American society is on the brink. Black voters too.

Full majorities in Los Angeles County, the Central Valley and Northern California also believe Californians are doomed, as do a majority of those who prefer to speak Spanish.

The multi-mode poll was conducted by telephone and online among 900 California voters from November 12 – 18, 2021. A survey of this size yields a margin of error of +/-3.3% and a 95% confidence level. This survey question was not sponsored by a third party, the results are being released for public interest.

Probolsky Research which conducted the poll is a non-partisan Latina- and woman-owned research firm with corporate, election, government, and non-profit clients.

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California Politics

Assembly Speaker strips Evan Low of committee chair- no reason stated

Speaker Anthony Rendon under fire from LGBTQ, diversity groups for sidelining one of California’s top gay legislators

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Assemblymember Evan Low (Screenshot via KGO-TV 7 ABC News Bay Area)

SACRAMENTO – The Speaker of the California Assembly Anthony Rendon (D-Los Angeles)  abruptly stripped Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) of both of his positions as chairman and member of the Assembly’s Business and Professions Committee Wednesday without a stated reason.

In a letter to Sue Parker, the Chief Clerk of the Assembly, Rendon named Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) as Low’s replacement without explanation. Low, who has served as chair of the committee for the past five legislative sessions, offered no direct comment instead stating in a release via his office; “It has been an honor to serve as chair of the Assembly’s Business and Professions Committee, where my colleagues and I crafted legislation to help small businesses, combat the opioid crisis, implement a system to regulate legal cannabis, and work with Governor Newsom to protect patients and health professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Low serves as Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus and Vice Chair of the California API Legislative Caucus, his removal brought immediate condemnation from groups aligned with those marginalised communities.

We are deeply disappointed to see Assemblymember Low removed as Chair of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee without any explanation. At a time when the API community faces a surge in hate, violence and discrimination, and state legislatures across the country relentlessly attack the LGBTQ+ community, Assemblymember Low has provided critical representation for our communities in Sacramento,” Equality California said in a statement. “He has chaired the B&P Committee for the last five years with policy-driven and solution-oriented leadership. Removing Assemblymember Low as chair is an unfortunate example of people of color — especially API people — being sidelined from leadership roles despite demonstrated success and a commitment to strengthening and diversifying the Legislature.”

The Washington D.C. based non-profit OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, a 48 year-old group that has chapters in all 50 states, dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, tweeted their displeasure:

Assembly sources told the Blade over the past two days that Rendon’s actions appear to be politically driven retaliation stemming from several factions who had approached Low to campaign for the Speaker’s gavel this past summer, unhappy with Rendon’s handling of the legislative calendar as well as his handling of certain matters on the Democratic agenda.

One source pointed out that “stripping him [Low] of his chair was ridiculous and a petty move that smacked of revenge on the Speaker’s part given that he [Low] has held a personal fundraiser for Rendon and raised $120 thousand for the Speaker.”

A legislative staffer speaking to the Blade on background Friday said that the optics of the Speaker’s action was terrible. “You remove the gay lawmaker who heads the LGBT caucus and vice-chairs the Asian-PI caucus without reason? Look its clearly revenge- but Evan told those people he wasn’t going to do an end run on the Speaker and he didn’t.”

“Speaker Rendon has the right to replace any committee chair, but he also has the responsibility to explain why. To remove Evan Low – the only out LGBTQ AAPI committee chair in the Assembly – from his position without explanation is problematic, especially with no other LGBTQ people serving as chairs. At a time when the LGBTQ community and the AAPI community face increasing harm, we need more bold leadership like Evan Low’s, not less.”

Annise Parker, LGBTQ Victory Institute President & CEO

Movement is afoot inside Assembly circles as disbelief is turning to anger. Another source speaking to the Blade on background said that the Speaker’s action looks like it will backfire. “I’ve heard that some are saying they will go on the record in the next week- and some are really pissed off. He’s [Rendon] annoyed the Black caucus, now the Asian caucus- the people thinking about to go on the record, that momentum is building.”

The Speaker is not commenting nor making public statements as of Friday. One source told the Blade that a prominent non-profit leader had texted Rendon expressing grave concerns over what appeared to be a capricious move in removing Low and received no answer other than “Message received.”

One of oldest LGBTQ non-profit political groups, The Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee (BAYMEC) a four-county LGBTQ political action committee (PAC) which has been advocating for the civil rights of LGBTQ people since 1984 in the central coast counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Monterey, took to Twitter expressing its outrage.

The Bay Area Reporter noted that the Sacramento Bee first reported about Low being stripped of his chairmanship. His being removed means he no longer chairs any committees, as per Assembly rules its members are only given one chairmanship per legislative session. Low remains a member of the communications and conveyance; elections; governmental organization; and higher education committees.

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