bryceOpenly LGBT candidates won political races literally from coast to coast last night, with key wins in California, Montana and Maine.  17 of the Victory Fund’s 21 endorsed candidates on the ballot yesterday either won their races outright or advanced to general elections.

Some highlights:

–As expected, openly gay Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, a Democrat, will face Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack in the race to represent California’s 45th Congressional District.

–In California, the State Assembly is likely to welcome three new openly gay and lesbian lawmakers after key primary wins last night put them on the road to victory this November. Toni Atkins (Dist 76), Rich Gordon (Dist 21) and Ricardo Lara (Dist 50) won their Democratic primaries in overwhelmingly Democratic Assembly districts.  With one gay lawmaker leaving the California Senate due to term limits, the state is now likely to have a total of seven openly gay and lesbian state legislators in the next term, up from five currently.

–Also in California, Jill Ravitch won her race for Sonoma County District Attorney, beating an incumbent.  She will become the state’s second openly lesbian District Attorney, joining San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a Republican who is unopposed in her reelection bid.

–Openly transgender lawyer Victoria Kolakowski also advanced to the general election in her race for Superior Court Judge in Alameda County, Calif.

–In Maine, out lesbian candidate Jill Barkley is now the heavy favorite to win a seat in the Maine State House after winning her primary last night.

–Montana is also likely to add at least one openly gay state lawmaker.  Bryce Bennett (pictured) won his Democratic primary to advance to the general election in November.  He’s running in a very Democratic district, so it’s expected he’ll join Rep. Diane Sands, who was unopposed in her reelection bid, in the Montana State House.  Aaron Kampfe also advanced in his Democratic primary for a seat in the Montana Senate.