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Here Are the LGBTQ Candidates Who Won, Made History in the 2018 Midterms

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday Nov 7, 2018
Democrat Chris Pappas, right, answers a question during a 1st Congressional District candidates debate with Republican Eddie Edwards in Manchester, N.H., Oct. 18, 2018
Democrat Chris Pappas, right, answers a question during a 1st Congressional District candidates debate with Republican Eddie Edwards in Manchester, N.H., Oct. 18, 2018  (Source:Charles Krupa/AP)

The 2018 Midterms saw the largest ever share of wins for women, including two Native American women and two Muslim women, CNN reports. But a number of LGBTQ candidates won their races, as well, the CNN article noted.

Among them: Sharice Davids, an openly lesbian candidate who won a seat in Congress for her Kansas district. Davids is also one of two Native American candidates who share the distinction of being the first Native American women to be elected to the House. The Huffington Post reported on how Kansas also saw two LGBTQ candidates elected to the state's house of representatives, Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodward. And in Pennsylvania, voters went all in for Malcolm Kenyatta, an openly gay African-American candidate for the state's house of representatives.

Angie Craig won her congressional race in Minnesota, marking the first time that state has sent an open lesbian to the House; her victory came after a defeat two years ago, in which she lost to Jason Lewis, an anti-LGBTQ congressman. In New Hampshire, voters chose Chris Pappas as their first openly gay congressman. New Hampshire also saw two trans candidates win their bids to serve as state representatives, making them the second and third openly trans-state lawmakers after Danica Roem, whose win in 2017 in Virginia made history. And even in deep-red Indiana, where Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly - who largely went along with Trump's agenda - was trounced, an openly gay man, J.D. Ford, bested a virulently anti-LGBTQ state legislator, winning a place in the Indiana General Assembly, as reported by the Indianapolis Star.

Perhaps even more remarkable was the Alabama state house victory by Neil Rafferty, an openly gay veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, who, local news channel WBRC confirmed, prevailed over GOP opponent Joseph Baker to succeed another LGBTQ lawmaker - the first to serve as a state lawmaker in the famously conservative state - Patricia Todd.

Just as telling, though, was the defeat that another openly gay candidate - Republican and "Gays for Trump" founder Peter Boykin - suffered in his run for a spot among the legislators of the North Carolina house.

Though Democrats took the House, projections indicated that Republicans stood to add several seats to their majority in the Senate. But there, too, LGBTQ candidates saw success: In Wisconsin, openly lesbian Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin, the nation's first out lesbian senator, fended off Republican challenger Leah Vukmire as she cruised to a re-election victory.

Meantime, Democrats also picked up some state governorships. Among those wins was that of Jared Polis, a longtime representative from Colorado, who succeeded his bid to become Colorado's first openly gay governor. Meantime, Oregon's openly bisexual incumbent governor, Kate Brown, beat GOP challenger Knute Buehler.

The spate of LGBTQ wins was not entirely unexpected. The Huffington Post noted that nationwide more than 240 LGBTQ candidates prevailed in primary races earlier this year.

The so-called Rainbow Wave gathered momentum as the Trump administration undertook various LGBTQ-hostile moves and policies, from removing gays from the 2020 Census to proposing a legal redefinition of gender that is based solely on genitalia, a move decried as an attempt to legally erase trans-Americans.

It was a good section day for allies, too, with Zach Wahls — who, in 2011, at the age of 19, famously testified to the Iowa House of Representatives on the legitimacy of his family, headed by his two mothers — overwhelmingly winning a seat in that very same legislative body.

The wins were not confined to victories among candidates; in one of the nation's most closely-watched ballot initiatives, Massachusetts voters decisively rejected an attempt to rescind protections for trans residents of the Bay State.

But there were losses among the many wins, as well, including an end to trans candidate Christine Hallquist's gubernatorial aspirations in Vermont. Hallquist had already made history as the country's first trans gubernatorial candidate from one of the two major parties, CNN noted.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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  • , 2018-11-07 19:42:54

    Read this please


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