BTL-endorsed candidates fare well

By |2008-11-06T09:00:00-05:00November 6th, 2008|News|

Michigan’s LGBT community was a big winner in Tuesday’s election, seating LGBT-supportive candidates at every level of government. Between The Lines made endorsements in the vast majority of contested elections, and many of the candidates that we identified as LGBT-supportive won their races.
Here is a breakdown of the election results in Michigan from the perspective of LGBT-supportive candidates and their races.
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama won by a decisive 16 percentage points in Michigan. He was strongly endorsed by BTL and by most of the LGBT press in the country. He actively reached out to the LGBT community here and across the nation and included gays and lesbians in his organizing, campaigning and in his speeches, including his victory speech Tuesday night from Chicago.
Diane Hathaway won an upset victory, unseating the Republican nominee for Michigan Supreme Court, incumbent Chief Justice Cliff Taylor. He was the leader of the court’s notoriously conservative “gang of four” that voted to deny domestic partner benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees. Under Taylor, Michigan’s Supreme Court was so conservative that it was named the “Best Court in America” by the anti-LGBT Citizens for Traditional Values. Judge Diane Hathaway supports LGBT rights and issues and was strongly endorsed by BTL. With Taylor’s loss, the court is now tipped from a conservative majority of four judges, to where the arch-conservative judges are now in the minority.
Democrats won two hotly contested elections for U.S. Congress in Michigan, tipping the balance of power in the delegation to eight Democrats and seven Republicans. In the ninth District, pro-LGBT Democrat Gary Peters beat the incumbent Republican, Joe Knollenberg, and in the seventh District, Democrat Mark Schauer beat the incumbent Republican Tim Walberg. Both Knollenberg and Walberg had terrible voting records on LGBT issues. Both Peters and Schauer have solid pro-LGBT records and were strongly endorsed by BTL.
“We are very pleased with these victories up and down the ballot. It would not have been possible without tens of thousands of volunteers and millions of voters,” said Mark Brewer, Chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, who had consistently solicited the support from the LGBT community for Hathaway, Peters and Schauer among other candidates. “The LGBT community is a very important constituency of the Democratic Party and I think the candidates up and down the ballot with be sensitive to the needs of the LGBT community.”
Democrats also won impressive victories in the 110 races for seats in the Michigan House of Representatives, picking up nine additional seats and thereby expanding and solidifying their majority. The balance of power is now 67 seats for the Democrats and 43 seats for the Republicans. All of the incumbent candidates won their reelection bids, but the nine seats the Democrats picked up had been vacated by Republicans who were forced out due to term limits. None of the term limited seats that had been held by Democrats turned over to Republicans.
All of the Democratic nominees won their races for the Michigan State Board of Education and the Trusteeships at the state universities.
For lower court judgeships, the results were more mixed for the LGBT community. BTL endorsed Paula Manderfield for the Court of Appeals, but she was defeated by Michael Kelly. At the Circuit Court level, BTL endorsed in five contested races, and two of them won; Christopher Yates and Donald Shelton, both incumbents. One disappointment came in the 48th circuit where William Baillargeon lost his reelection bid in a very close race. In the District Court races, BTL endorsed in seven races and two won; Bill Richards and Elizabeth Church. In the Probate court races BTL endorsed in only one race for Gregory Crockett in Ingham County, but the incumbent, Richard Garcia, won his reelection bid.

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