LGBT and Women Candidates Win Big in Tuesday Primaries

Malcolm Kenyatta and Kristin Seale

Tuesday was a good day for LGBT and women candidates in the primary elections in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Idaho, and Nebraska.

Six out of seven LGBT candidates endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund won their primaries. In Pennsylvania, newcomers Malcolm Kenyatta and Kristin Seale won their primaries for the state House of Representatives, as did incumbent Brian Sims. All are Democrats.

Kenyatta, 27, stands to become the first openly gay person of color to join the House. He prevailed over several candidates in the 181st District in north Philadelphia. The seat was previously held by his cousin, W. Curtis Thomas, who has served for 15 terms but is now retiring, Philadelphia Magazine reports.

But he brings more than family connections to the race –  he “has been connected to Philadelphia politics since the age of 12, when he ran for junior block captain,” the magazine reports. He’s been a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, managed lesbian community advocate Sherrie Cohen’s campaign for City Council, and was a major supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential run.

During the campaign, someone put antigay posters up around Kenyatta’s district, showing a picture of him and his former husband overlaid with a “no” symbol. “Fortunately, that did not stop voters from making history,” Philadelphia Magazine notes. He has a Republican opponent in the general election, T. Milton Street, but since the district is heavily Democratic, Kenyatta is expected to win in November.

Seale, who identifies as queer, bested Philip Block in a close race in the 168th District, in a suburban area west of Philadelphia. She will face incumbent Republican Christopher Quinn in November. Sims, in the 182nd District in Philadelphia, is unopposed in the general election.

“Representative Brian Sims has been our lone LGBTQ voice in the state legislature – standing up to bigoted colleagues and putting forward pro-equality legislation – but he won’t be alone much longer,” said Annise Parker, LGBTQ Victory Fund president and CEO. “With [Tuesday night’s] victories, we are poised to triple the number of openly LGBTQ state legislators in Pennsylvania – an important step in moving equality forward in the state. While these out leaders will be champions for our community, their campaign platforms are about improving the lives of all Pennsylvanians. That is why they won tonight, and why they will win in November.”

In Oregon, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, who is bisexual, easily won her primary, receiving more than 80 percent of the vote, The Oregonian reports. She had only “nominal opposition,” according to the paper. She will face Republican Knute Buehler, currently a state representative, in November, but she’s favored to win. Incumbent state Rep. Karin Power, a lesbian, also won her primary in Oregon. In Idaho, incumbent state Rep. John McCrostie, who is gay, won his primary. Both are Democrats and are backed by Victory Fund, as Brown is.

At least eight women won primaries in Pennsylvania congressional districts. Women ran in record numbers in Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court ordered districts redrawn after it found that the previous setup gave an unfair advantage to Republicans. All but one of the winners were Democrats, and some stand a good chance in the general election, meaning they could diversify the state’s heretofore all-male congressional delegation, Jezebel notes.

Another notable win for women came in Idaho, where Paulette Jordan prevailed in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, The Hill reports. If she wins in November, she will be the first Native American governor in the U.S. In November she’ll be up against Republican Brad Little, currently the lieutenant governor.

And in Nebraska, progressive Democrat Kara Eastman won her primary in an Omaha congressional district over the more conservative Brad Ashford, a former U.S. House member. She will be running against incumbent Republican Don Bacon in November. “A key question is how Eastman's support for single-payer health insurance will play in Omaha, where the insurance industry is a key economic driver,” CNN reports.

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