There were mixed results for LGBTQ+ candidates in Tuesday’s primaries in New York and Florida, with a notable loss for Mondaire Jones, one of the first Black gay members of Congress.
Jones, first elected in 2020 from a district in the suburbs north of New York City, had moved to run in a newly created congressional district, the 10th, covering parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. He was one of several U.S. House members affected by court-ordered redistricting in New York State. In his original district, the 17th, he would have been up against another gay congressman, Sean Patrick Maloney.
In the 10th Congressional District Democratic primary, Jones lost to Dan Goldman, who’d been a prosecutor in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial. There were 13 candidates running. Goldman, an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, had received the endorsement of The New York Times, although the Times did praise Jones as well.
Jones and Ritchie Torres, an Afro-Latinx gay man, were the first two Black members of the LGBTQ+ community elected to Congress. Torres, also first elected in 2020, was unopposed in the Democratic primary in the 15th Congressional District, located in the Bronx.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund issued a statement lamenting Jones’s defeat. “The result in Mondaire’s race is deeply sad for the LGBTQ community,” said Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker. “We’ve lost a fierce advocate and LGBTQ pioneer in Congress who used every ounce of his political power to fight for a more equitable and fair America. We look forward to supporting Mondaire’s continued work in Congress this year as well as his future advocacy. It’s abundantly clear to all who know him that his call to public service is a lifelong endeavor. We look forward to our continued partnership and friendship.” Jones will be in office until January.
Maloney, meanwhile, easily won the 17th District Democratic primary, besting challenger Alessandra Biaggi 67 percent to 33 percent. Biaggi had called Maloney insufficiently progressive. Maloney is a power in his party, as he chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He had received criticism for running in the 17th District after redistricting made his current district, the 18th, somewhat less Democratic.
The New York redistricting also put two LGBTQ+ allies up against each other — Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney. Nadler was formerly in the 12th Congressional District, Maloney in the 10th, but the redistricting put them both in the 12th, and Nadler emerged the winner Tuesday. Both have perfect 100 scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard.
In Florida, Republican Congressman Daniel Webster defeated primary challenger Laura Loomer, an anti-LGBTQ+, anti-Muslim activist who had slurred LGBTQ+ advocates and allies as pedophiles. Webster, who represents the reliably Republican 11th Congressional District, is no friend to LGBTQ+ people, though, with a string of zeroes from HRC.
In state-level Florida races, out Reps. Michele Rayner and Shevrin Jones won their primaries; both are Democrats. And challenger Ashley Gantt defeated the only Democrat who voted for the state’s “don’t say gay” legislation, James Bush III.
“We are thrilled voters are sending openly LGBTQ members back to Tallahassee to continue the fight,” Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith said in a press release. “In ousting Representative James Bush, voters also sent a clear warning that politicians will pay a price for their anti-LGBTQ agendas. As the legislature has lurched to the far right, abdicating their responsibility to Floridians to serve Governor DeSantis’ political ambitions, the voices of pro-equality legislators have been critical in fighting back against censorship and discrimination.”