The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund today announced it has endorsed 100 openly LGBT political candidates in 2008, making this endorsement slate the group’s largest ever.
“I think reaching this milestone is a testament to a new attitude in our community about how to achieve political change. We don’t have to accept sitting on the sidelines and hoping others will do the heavy lifting. We can roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.
Several Victory-endorsed candidates have already won their elections outright or become prohibitive favorites in their races. These candidates include Portland Mayor-elect Sam Adams, Falls Church, Va. City Councilman Lawrence Webb and Austin, Texas City Councilwoman Randi Shade.
The Victory Fund also announced its ten highlighted races for the remainder of the election cycle. The candidates are:
- Jason Bartlett—State Representative, Connecticut—Rep. Bartlett came out in 2008 during his current term, making him one of only two openly gay African-American state legislators in the U.S. His reelection would confirm that serving honestly and openly as LGBT is not a barrier to retaining the trust of constituents.
- Kate Brown—Secretary of State, Oregon—Sen. Kate Brown, who currently serves as the Democratic Leader in the Oregon Senate, would become the first openly LGBT Secretary of State in the U.S. In Oregon, the office is the second-highest ranking elected post behind the governor.
- Linda Ketner—U.S. Representative, South Carolina—Linda Ketner is a longtime businesswoman, community activist and philanthropist who is seeking to represent South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in the House of Representatives. She faces an entrenched Republican incumbent, but the state’s political press says Ketner’s campaign has made the race competitive.
- Kevin Lee—State Representative, Pennsylvania—Kevin Lee would become the Keystone State’s first out representative, which would be a milestone for Pennsylvania’s substantial LGBT community. Kevin hopes to represent a swing district in suburban Philadelphia.
- Andrew Martin—State Representative, Nevada—Andrew Martin is seeking a seat in the Nevada Assembly, where he would be the only out state representative. Current state Rep. David Parks, who is also openly gay, is running for the State Senate.
- Sara Orozco—State Senate, Massachusetts—Sara Orozco would be the only openly LGBT state senator in Massachusetts. She faces a notoriously anti-gay incumbent.
- John Perez—State Assembly, California—If elected, John Perez would become the first openly LGBT person of color elected to the California legislature. Perez’ strong support from both the labor and LGBT groups reflects growing alliances between the two communities.
- Jared Polis—U.S. Representative, Colorado—Jared Polis, the former chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education, won a hard-fought Democratic primary to represent the 2nd Congressional District. If elected, Jared would become the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a non-incumbent.
- Jim Roth—Corporation Commission, Oklahoma—Jim Roth was appointed to this powerful statewide regulatory commission by Gov. Brad Henry after winning two terms on the Oklahoma County Commission. He is now running to keep the seat. Roth would become the first openly gay statewide elected official in Oklahoma.
- Lupe Valdez—Sheriff, Dallas County, Texas—Lupe Valdez became the first woman, the first Latina and the first out lesbian ever elected to this post when she won in 2004. Republicans, still smarting from having lost the seat in 2004, have targeted this county-wide race.