Entries from: Victory Fund

Campaign Breakthroughs: John McCrostie, Idaho

Editor’s Note:  This article is part of a series called “Campaign Breakthroughs.”  Campaign Breakthroughs will highlight races that are breaking glass ceilings or shine the spotlight on the campaign worlds ground breaking achievements.

47b3667b9b8481c7b86a75d2e7c42cb1Running for political office as an LGBT candidate is already quite an undertaking. Running for office in a traditionally red state is a whole separate matter, requiring patience, determination, and a readiness to take on the toughest policy challenges. Working as an educator in Idaho schools for the past 11 years, John McCrostie has witnessed firsthand how legislative decisions made in top levels of government affect people’s everyday lives.

When Idaho was considering the adoption of the Students Come First legislation, which would institute cuts in education spending and roll back contract rights for teachers, John knew someone needed to stand up and speak out.  After Idaho’s legislature passed the legislation despite overwhelming opposition, John worked with parents, teachers, and other local leaders to successfully repeal the laws.

With this fight over, John decided to run for House Seat 16A in Idaho’s Legislative  District 16, which includes Garden City and portions of west and northwest Boise. If successful in his bid, John would be the only openly LGBT representative in the state legislature, and only the second known openly LGBT lawmaker in the state’s history.

John’s candidacy couldn’t have come at a more crucial moment, particularly in Idaho. Recently, a comprehensive “religious tolerance” bill passed in the state House’s State Affairs Committee is awaiting a floor vote. The legislation would allow Idaho business owners to discriminate against any patron for any reason, including sexual orientation and gender identity, based on their personal religious beliefs.

Positive developments are arriving as well – currently, a campaign is underway to amend Idaho’s Human Rights Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Having people like John McCrostie in public office goes a long way towards closing these equality gaps, both for the LGBT community and others groups that for too long have been marginalized in politics. One out official in a state legislature may not seem like much, but in Idaho, it could make all the difference.

Have a Campaign Breakthrough?  Email communications@victoryfund.org with your breakthrough ideas.

NYC’s Quinn to address Victory Fund National Brunch

speakerquinnNew York City mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn, the current speaker of the city council, is set to address more than 1,000 attendees at the annual Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch this weekend in Washington, D.C. She’ll join Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims, comedian Loni Love and others as Victory supporters celebrate unprecedented electoral success for LGBT candidates in 2012, and look ahead to big races like Quinn’s in 2013.

“Washington, D.C., loves Chris Quinn because we rarely get to hear politicians tell us exactly what they’re thinking,” said Victory Fund president and CEO Chuck Wolfe, who also be a featured speaker at Sunday’s brunch.  ”This is going to be one of the most exciting races of the year. There are a lot of LGBT people in Washington who will be watching to see if New York makes history this year by electing its first woman and first openly LGBT mayor.”

Sims became the first openly LGBT candidate elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature last year, and Baldwin became the first openly LGBT U.S. senator in one of the most closely-watched federal races of 2012.

“This is a celebration of a landmark year in LGBT politics, but it’s also a look ahead to what we can accomplish this year, when we expect more than 100 candidates will be endorsed in local, state and federal races,” Wolfe said.

LGBT ally and “Chelsea Lately Show” regular comedian Loni Love is set to kick off the festivities at the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton.  To learn more or secure last-minute tickets, go here.

Victory Fund names new political director

lucindaguinnThe Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund today announced Lucinda Guinn has joined the organization as its political director. Guinn will be responsible for overseeing Victory’s political team and endorsement process, which ensures that viable openly LGBT political candidates receive top-notch support and technical expertise during their campaigns. She will also oversee Victory’s well-regarded Candidate and Campaign Training, a first stop on the career tracks of many LGBT political leaders.

Guinn joins Victory as the national political action committee works to build on its 2012 successes, when 124 of 180 endorsed openly LGBT candidates won election, including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and six members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I’m excited to welcome such an experienced and talented political professional to Victory,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.  “Lucinda’s reputation is sterling and her winning track record speaks for itself.  I know she shares my vision that there’s nothing the LGBT community can’t achieve in electoral politics if we’re willing to work hard to win.”

Prior to joining the Victory Fund, Guinn was the western political director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where she helped 11 new candidates get elected to the U.S House and lost no incumbent seats in the last election cycle.

“Lucinda has the skill set to dig into campaigns and help them improve from the inside out.  With years of campaign experience, she is battle tested and knows how to win tough campaigns.  She’ll be able to expand the playing field and help more LGBT candidates get elected to office, which is what makes the Victory Fund such a crucial organization in the fight for equality,” said Robby Mook, DCCC’s former executive director.

Lisa Grove of the polling firm Anzalone Liszt Grove, who worked with Guinn on Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema’s groundbreaking campaign last year, said, “Lucinda is a great pick for the Victory Fund.  She is smart, strategic, collaborative and knows how to get the win.  I’ve watched her gently move numerous candidates to where they needed to be in terms of message, fundraising and field.  We can count on seeing more LGBT elected officials with Lucinda on the job.”

Steve Elmendorf elected chair of the Victory Fund

S_8 jpg (426x640)Washington, D.C., political strategist Steve Elmendorf was elected chair of the board of directors of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund at the group’s board meeting in Long Beach, Calif., last weekend.

Elmendorf, a longtime political insider and connected power-player, is president of the firm Elmendorf | Ryan.  Before launching his firm he served as chief of staff to House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, and as a senior adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“I am honored to chair this organization as the community of leaders we serve reaches new heights of political power and opportunity.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have much to offer their country as elected and appointed officials, and we will work hard to make sure many more of them are able to serve at all levels of government,” said Elmendorf.  ”It’s become exceedingly clear how important it is to be in the room when key decisions about LGBT issues are made, so getting more out leaders in those rooms is our priority and our focus.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi applauded Elmendorf’s election.

“As a former top House Leadership staffer and a fixture in our nation’s capital, Steve Elmendorf brings critical experience and political know-how to the work of electing more LGBT leaders to Congress,” Pelosi said.  ”With a record number of LGBT Members set to serve in the next Congress, Steve’s leadership at the Victory Fund will be critical in advancing an agenda of civil rights and equality under the law.  I congratulate him on his election as chair of the Victory Fund board.”

Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., also congratulated Elmendorf.

“The important work the Victory Fund has done and will continue to do moving our country forward will be well served by Steve’s experience and skills bringing people together and creating coalitions to achieve big things. I look forward to working with Steve and the entire Victory Fund team to continue the progress we have made in both the policy and electoral arenas to build a stronger America where everybody has a seat at the table and everyone has a voice,” Baldwin said.

Frank Selvaggi of New York City, a CPA and founding partner at Altman, Greenfield & Selvaggi, was elected vice-chair of the Victory Fund board.  Kim Hoover, a Washington, D.C, attorney and real estate developer, was elected treasurer.  Joe Falk of Miami was elected board secretary.  He is a consultant at the firm Akerman Senterfitt.

BREAKING: Obama backs marriage equality

obamaPresident Barack Obama today said he now supports allowing same-sex couples to marry, a remarkable moment in the history of LGBT civil rights.  Victory Fund president and CEO Chuck Wolfe issued the following message in response to the news:

Remember this moment.

Minutes ago Barack Obama became the first American president to say he supports allowing loving, committed same-sex couples to enter into civil marriages.  I want to congratulate the president for this bold and welcome move.

This is a watershed moment for the LGBT civil rights movement, but it’s also a call to action.  A president’s vocal support for our community is a fantastic asset, but nothing can replace the hard work it will take to ensure we win the rights we deserve.

This year in Maryland and Washington state, marriage equality laws long sought by openly gay and lesbian state lawmakers were finally passed.  Those successes came after determined efforts by coalitions of national, state and local LGBT groups, as well as tireless lobbying by the men and women whose lives would be most affected by these victories.

This year we have the opportunity to greatly expand our community’s voice in government.   We will elect LGBT lawmakers who will fight for us every day.  And now they will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their president as they ask their fellow Americans for the simple protections and responsibilities that come with marriage.