Culture war rages again – Keen News Service
It was a rough night for Democrats on Tuesday, as gubernatorial candidates in two heavily Democratic states lost huge support – and one of two seats – to Republicans. LGBT candidates marked milestones, but the community found itself in the crosshairs of a war culture.
An LGBT candidate won the best vote in an Atlanta city council race, positioning herself to become the first Muslim to win elections in Georgia. Another LGBT person became the first black LGBT person to win the election in the state of Montana, winning a seat on the town of Bozeman commission. The first transgender candidate won elections in Ohio at a local school board. And, the first openly LGBT woman won the Detroit City Council election.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national group that promotes and supports campaigns by openly LGBTQ candidates, said it was following at least 242 openly LGBT candidates in the Nov. 2 poll. Although not all of the races he was following were reported on Wednesday morning, he said, so far, 59 have won, 50 have lost and 22 have passed through the play-offs.
There were more than 80 openly LGBT candidates for city and town council seats on Tuesday evening, plus 11 openly LGBT candidates for mayor. Only nine LGBT candidates ran for state seats and one for the state Senate. There were also at least seven LGBT candidates for various local court seats, aside from five other races for various positions, such as municipal auditor, and at least 10 LGBT candidates vying for school board seats.
Big fights in small races
Local school boards have received a lot of attention in recent weeks. They appear to be part of a political strategy favored by conservative Republicans to stir up controversies over LGBT books, abortions and anti-racist curricula. Republican candidates in the big races then use these controversies to attract moderate voters.
The Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, first-time candidate Glenn Youngkin, has laser-focused on “parents” in the last few weeks of his successful campaign. He was able to act out stories circulating in the more democratic parts of the upstate – stories of alleged gay pornography books in public school libraries and allegations of sexual assault by a transgender student. He promised parents he would make sure they were part of the decision-making process for local school programs.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate former governor Terry McAuliffe was implicated in the transgender assault report when, during a debate in September, a moderator noted that McAuliffe had expressed his agreement with the policies of the State in favor of transgender students and the right of local governments to make their own policies. McAuliffe has tried to take a cautious line, saying he likes to allow local governments to contribute, but that “the state will always issue guidance like we do the Department of Education.”
Youngkin, who has been widely praised for leading a campaign that kept former President Trump at a studied distance, also followed a narrow political line when asked about transgender history. He said that “we are called to love everyone” and that not only should local districts make such decisions, but parents should be included in the dialogue on these policies, including which books are included in libraries. .
The gist of this controversy and others like it, a commentator noted Wednesday morning on CNN, was that “it reminds voters that Democrats are too liberal.”
McAuliffe has a strong track record of supporting equal rights for LGBT people and has released a “Bold Plan to Advance LGBTQ + Rights”. During his first term as governor, McAuliffe in 2017 vetoed a bill to give state-funded charities the right to deny services to LGBT people.
Youngkin, a first-time candidate, said during the election campaign that he does not personally support same-sex marriage, but that as governor, he would support that same-sex marriage is “okay in Virginia.”
The human rights campaign supported McAuliffe; the Republican Log Cabin group endorsed Youngkin.
Log Cabin released a statement saying Youngkin has “demonstrated a desire to listen and work with the LGBT community.”
In New Jersey, incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murray, who garnered support from Garden State Equality, faced Republican State Assembly Member Jack Ciattarelli, who alienated many with hostile remarks to the towards LGBT people. Like the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, Ciattarelli has sought to stir up controversy over LGBT issues in public schools, claiming “we don’t teach sodomy in sixth grade.” Specifically, he pledged to defeat efforts to make public school curricula more inclusive in LGBT history. And we are going to cancel the LGBTQ program. It wasn’t until Wednesday night that some media called New Jersey’s race for Democrats.
Highlights of the LGBT race
Some of the highlights from Tuesday’s races involving openly LGBT candidates included:
- While the results of the school board’s 10 races were mostly not yet released by the deadline, in a small district in mid-Ohio, candidate Dion Manley claimed the first victory for a transgender candidate at a post in Buckeye State. “Dion broke a lavender ceiling in Ohio,” said Victory Fund president Annise Parker. She said Manley’s victory “was especially significant given the efforts of anti-trans activists across the country to target trans students at school board meetings.”
- In Virginia, State House transgender delegate Danica Roem, who made history in 2017 as the first transgender person to win and sit in a state legislature and the only transgender state legislator in the United States – United, was re-elected for a third term. But Roem, who represents part of northern Virginia, beat his Republican opponent by less than two points, a much smaller margin than in 2019.
- Liliana Bakhtiari was the top vote winner for her Atlanta City Council run, which puts her in a strong position to become the first openly LGBT Muslim to win elections in Georgia. Bakhtiari narrowly missed the 50 percent mark, forcing himself into a second round. The second winner of the votes was 30 points behind. Although two other openly LGBT candidates lost their candidacy for the Council, voters elected openly gay Alex Wan to reclaim a seat he previously held.
- All six openly LGBT candidates for New York City Council won, including Crystal Hudson and Kristin Richardson Jordan, the first two black LGBT women to be elected to the 50-member body. Two of the six competed in uncontested general elections, but all six were candidates for their seats for the first time.
- In Minneapolis, Sheila Nezhad, a former Williams Institute political analyst, came third in a group of 18 candidates trying to oust the incumbent mayor. On Wednesday afternoon, the mayor had enough votes to keep his post.
- In Buffalo, New York, India, Walton, who identifies as gay, was unable to turn his stunning primary victory for the Democratic nomination into a victory in the general election. The incumbent Democratic mayor mounted an aggressive writing campaign that overwhelmed Walton, a first-time candidate. Local news analysts suggested Walton was “the most progressive of the progressives.”
- In Atlanta, with more than a dozen running for mayor, current openly gay city councilor Antonio Brown came in fifth, with just 2% of the vote. The Atlanta Newspaper Incorporation noted that Brown had been saddled with an indictment, accusing him of engaging in bank fraud. He denies the charges but is due to stand trial next year. Brown was the only openly LGBT mayoral candidate not to have won support from the Victory Fund in Tuesday’s election.
- And in Bozeman, MT, Christopher Coburn won the City Commission election, becoming the first openly LGBT black person to be elected in the state. Coburn took the seat in April, following the resignation of the previous occupant. “The truth is, I’m from Montana, so I was the first queer black person to do a lot of things in my life,” Coburn told a local NBC affiliate. “That’s sort of what happens when you’re someone like me from Montana…”