Brody Levesque| Washington Blade
Courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
LGBTQ Victory Fund President Annise Parker always tells prospective LGBTQ+ candidates that her best advice is to “knock on doors and tell voters what issues you’re running on.” That advice paid off as a historic slate of queer candidates were elected to local, state and federal offices in the 2022 midterm election.
Candidates embracing their being LGBTQ+ identities remained laser focused on issues affecting their neighbors and constituents.
Additionally, LGBTQ+ allies either retained their seats or were elected for the first time to serve. For the first time in history, LGBTQ+ candidates ran in all 50 states and D.C. and 416 LGBTQ+ people ran for state legislatures this year, the most in U.S. history.
At least 436 out LGBTQ+ candidates running in the 2022 midterms have won their elections, according to No H8 Campaign, the most in U.S. history and surpassing the previous record of 336 set in 2020. More victories are expected in the coming days. At least 1,065 out LGBTQ+ people ran for office this year — a historic number.
Candidates who are not cisgender (including transgender, nonbinary and gender non-conforming candidates) ran in record-breaking numbers, representing 13.9 percent of all LGBTQ+ candidates compared to 7.9 percent in 2020 and the proportion of LGBTQ+ candidates of color grew significantly in the 2022 midterms, accounting for 38.2 percent of all LGBTQ+ candidates
There have also been some historic firsts including Maura Healey who won the Massachusetts gubernatorial race — becoming the first out LGBTQ+ governor of Massachusetts and one of the first out lesbian governors in U.S. history.
In addition to Healey’s victory, Democrat Wes Moore on Tuesday defeated Republican Dan Cox in the Maryland gubernatorial election. Moore, who spoke about his support of LGBTQ+ rights with the Washington Blade last month, will succeed Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in January.
Moore will be Maryland’s first Black governor.
In Colorado, openly gay Gov. Jared Polis was reelected and in neighboring Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly, who has supported LGBTQ+ equality, has won re-election to a second term defeating Republican challenger Derek Schmidt. Kelly was the only Democratic governor running for re-election in a state won by Donald Trump in 2020 and vetoed anti-LGBTQ+ measures sent to her desk by the Republican-majority held legislature.
Longtime LGBTQ+ ally Tim Walz won a second term as Minnesota governor on Tuesday night, defeating Republican opponent Scott Jensen and cementing Democratic control of the executive branch for the longest consecutive period in state history.
In Pennsylvania Democrat Josh Shapiro beat Republican anti-LGBTQ+ QAnon adherent Douglas Mastriano in the state’s gubernatorial election.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has been elected to her first full term, beating challenger Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin.
Democrat Tina Kotek, who is a lesbian, won the race for Oregon governor, defeating Republican Christine Drazan. It was a hard-fought and expensive win by Democrats, who have a huge party registration advantage in Oregon but faced strong headwinds this year amid voter frustration at problems including homelessness, violent crime and lackluster delivery of government programs and services. Kotek’s win affirms just how difficult it is for a Republican candidate to win election to the state’s highest office, which Republicans last held in 1987.
U.S. House races had a number of firsts including Democratic candidate Robert Garcia winning election for California’s 42nd Congressional District. With this historic win, he is now the first out LGBTQ+ immigrant ever elected to Congress.
In neighboring Riverside County, openly gay Democratic Will Rollins was leading incumbent U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, a Republican congressman for nearly 30 years.
U.S. Rep. Angie Craig has won her re-election campaign in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District.
This is a key victory for LGBTQ+ women’s representation. Craig is one of just two LGBTQ+ women currently serving in the U.S. House. With U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.)’s re-election, along with Becca Balint, the first woman and first LGBTQ+ person elected to Congress from Vermont, LGBTQ+ women’s representation in Congress will expand for the first time since 2018.
Democrat and LGBTQ+ ally Maxwell Alejandro Frost, 25, became the first Generation Z candidate to win a Congressional seat, where he will represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the House.
In New York a congressional race between two openly gay candidates saw Democrat Robert Zimmerman conceding to Republican George Santos early Wednesday morning in the race to represent a newly drawn district in Queens and Nassau County. It is believed to be the first congressional general election between two openly gay candidates in U.S. history.
Republican challenger Karoline Leavitt conceded to gay Congressman Chris Pappas in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District on Tuesday night.
In Pennsylvania, in a race marked by vitriolic social media feuding, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman defeated his Republican opponent, celebrity television physician Dr. Mehmet Oz, in Pennsylvania’s Senate contest five months after suffering a debilitating stroke.
Down ballot races and state houses also saw LGBTQ+ candidates securing seats.
Zoeey Zephyr won the election for Montana’s 100th House District. With this historic victory, she is now the first out trans person ever elected to the Montana state legislature.
Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride on Tuesday won re-election. McBride, who represents District 2 in the Delaware Senate, in 2020 became the first openly trans woman elected to a state senate.
Two openly gay men won their Maryland House of Delegates races on Tuesday.
Kris Fair won his race in District 3 in Frederick County with 22.78 percent of the vote. He is the first openly gay man from Western Maryland elected to the General Assembly.
Joseph Vogel will represent District 17 in Montgomery County after he won with 26.59 percent of the vote.
Leigh Finke won the election for Minnesota’s House District 66A. With this historic victory, she is now the first out trans person ever elected to the Minnesota state legislature.
In Texas, Victory Fund-backed candidates Christian Manuel-Hayes and Venton Jones won the elections for House Districts 22 and 100 respectively.
Incumbent Illinois state Sen. Mike Simmons ran unopposed and was elected to serve a full term after filling the seat in a special election. Simmons is the first person of color to represent his district and the first member of the LGBTQ+ community to serve in the Illinois state Senate.
Democratic incumbent Tiara Mack has been reelected to the Rhode Island state Senate. In 2020, Mack was elected as the first openly queer Black person ever to serve in the statehouse.
In a race for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Annie Menz is the first Latina and out bisexual Democratic candidate elected to serve.
Corey Jackson made history Tuesday, winning his race for California Assembly District 60 and becoming the first Black openly LGBTQ+ person elected to serve in the state’s legislature. Jackson faced Republican Hector Diaz-Nava in the overwhelmingly Democratic district encompassing Moreno Valley and Perris and parts of Riverside, Hemet and San Jacinto.
Erick Russell won the election for Connecticut state Treasurer. With this victory, he is now the first Black out LGBTQ+ person ever elected to statewide office in U.S. history.
Krystal Oriadha on Tuesday became the first openly bisexual person elected to the Prince George’s County (Md.) Council when she won her District 7 race.
Rebecca Blankenship made history as Kentucky’s first openly trans elected official, to become a member of the Berea Community School Board.
Reflecting on the LGBTQ+ wins Parker noted in a release early Wednesday:
“Bigots tried their best to undermine our political power — but their hate backfired and motivated more LGBTQ+ people to run and win than ever before. The Rainbow Wave is a clear rebuke to the increased homophobia and transphobia sweeping our communities — and proves voters want to elect qualified LGBTQ+ leaders. With so much at stake this election, from the future of marriage equality to abortion, LGBTQ+ candidates’ grit and exceptional grassroots support is paying off.”
In an emailed statement, National LGBTQ+ Task Force Action Fund Executive Director said:
“We all woke up this morning to some exciting wins, some disappointing losses and many unanswered questions. What is undeniable is that our people turned out and prevented what some predicted would be a ‘red wave’ election of the most extreme and anti-progressive candidates. We are thrilled that Massachusetts elected the first ever out lesbian governor and that for the first time, New Hampshire will have a transgender state representative. We know that when young people, LGBTQ people and people of color turn out to the polls and stand against repressive and regressive policies and candidates, we gain victories like the ones we saw in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Vermont. We held back some attacks on our democracy, but we still have a lot of work to do. Now is the time to redouble our efforts, with our eyes and actions toward imminent run-off elections and the road to 2024. We must inspire and grow the participation of fair-minded voters especially in places where we have seen aggressive tactics to silence and disempower our communities. This is just the beginning for us! We are committed to doing all we can to strengthen our country and build a democracy that serves us all.”
The Blade will continue to update the results of the 2022 midterms as counting is finalized in races across the nation.
Reporting by Michael K. Lavers, Chris Kane and Brody Levesque
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