Races to Watch: Out Congressional and Statewide Candidates
It’s a record year for LGBTQ+ representation in a general election — at least 678 out candidates will be on the ballot Tuesday. They include, on the following pages, 30 candidates for congressional and statewide offices, some up for reelection, some seeking their first term. Those listed below are Democrats except for George Santos, a gay Republican running against a gay Democrat.
Read on for more information about this diverse group.
In 2018, lesbian Angie Craig became the first out member of the LGBTQ+ community elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota. Representing the Second Congressional District, in the Twin Cities metro area, she’s seeking a third term this year. Republican Tyler Kistner is challenging her. Craig is endorsed by Victory Fund.
Becca Balint is seeking to represent Vermont’s sole U.S. House district. A lesbian, she would be the first out LGBTQ+ person and first woman in that post. The incumbent, Democrat Peter Welch, is leaving the office to run for U.S. Senate and succeed Patrick Leahy, a fellow Dem, who’s retiring. Balint has served as majority leader of the Vermont Senate. In her race for Congress, she’s up against Republican Liam Madden, Libertarian Ericka Rudick, and three independents, Matt Druzba, Adam Ortiz, and Luke Talbot. She has Victory Fund’s endorsement.
Chris Pappas, a gay man representing New Hampshire’s First District in the U.S. House and the first out congressman from the state, is seeking a third term. He’s up against Republican Karoline Leavitt. He’s endorsed by Victory Fund.
David Cicilline, from Rhode Island’s First District, is up for his seventh term in the U.S. House. The former mayor of Providence has had a high profile as one of the managers in the second impeachment of Donald Trump. A Victory Fund endorsee, he’s being challenged by Republican Allen Waters.
Eric Sorensen, a gay man, is seeking to make history as the first out congressman from Illinois. He’s running in the 17th District, in the western part of the state, and he’s well known to residents as a TV weatherman. The incumbent, Democrat Cheri Bustos, is not seeking reelection. He’s up against Republican Esther Joy King and has the endorsement of Victory Fund.
Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a lesbian, would be the first out congressional representative from Oregon. She’s running in the Fifth District, having defeated incumbent Kurt Schrader in the Democratic primary. She’s an attorney and longtime activist who’s done much work both locally and globally — she helped repair war-damaged schools and hospitals in Kosovo and Bosnia. She’s up against Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the general election and has the endorsement of Victory Fund.
Jasmine Beach-Ferrara could replace scandal-plagued Republican Madison Cawthorn in representing North Carolina’s 11th District in the U.S. House. She’s not running against Cawthorn, however, as he lost the Republican primary to Chuck Edwards, currently a North Carolina state senator. Edwards may not have Cawthorn’s baggage, but he does have Cawthorn’s politics, Beach-Ferrara has pointed out. Beach-Ferrara, a lesbian, is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and the founding executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. She is endorsed by Victory Fund and would be North Carolina’s first out member of Congress.
Sean Patrick Maloney
Sean Patrick Maloney, a gay man, was New York State’s first out representative in Congress. First elected in 2012, he’s seeking reelection in the 18th District, in the suburbs of New York City. He’s being challenged by Republican Michael Lawler. Maloney has the endorsement of Victory Fund.
Heather Mizeur, a lesbian, is running to be Maryland’s first out member of the U.S. House. She’s a former state legislator and was an aide to John Kerry when he was a U.S. senator. After leaving elected office, she founded Soul Force Politics, a nonprofit dedicated to bridging the divisions in American politics and civic life. A Victory Fund endorsee, she’s seeking office in the First District against incumbent Republican Andrew Harris.
Ritchie Torres made history in 2020 as the first gay Afro-Latinx person elected to Congress and one of two Black gay men elected to the body (the other was fellow New Yorker Mondaire Jones, who lost the Democratic primary in his own district this year). Torres is seeking reelection from the 15th District, located in the Bronx. He’s endorsed by Victory Fund and is up against Republican Stylo A. Sapaskis.
Mark Takano, a gay man of Japanese descent, was the first out LGBTQ+ Asian American in Congress. He’s running for reelection from California’s 41st District. A Victory Fund endorsee, he’s up against Republican Aja Smith.
Mark Pocan is seeking reelection from Wisconsin’s Second Congressional District, where he was first elected in 2014. A gay man, he’s endorsed by Victory Fund and is being challenged by Republican Erik Olsen and independent Douglas Alexander.
In 2018, Sharice Davids became the first gay Native American elected to the U.S. House and one of the first two Native American women. She’s also the only Democrat in Kansas’s congressional delegation. She’s up for reelection in the state’s Third District this year, against Republican Amanda Adkins (who she defeated in 2020) and Libertarian Steve Hohe. Davids is endorsed by Victory Fund.
Robert Garcia, the mayor of Long Beach, Calif., is now running for U.S. House from the state’s 42nd District. A native of Peru, he would be the first out gay immigrant elected to Congress. A Victory Fund endorsee, he’s up against Republican John Briscoe.
Gay Democrat Will Rollins, a former federal prosecutor, is running for U.S. House from California’s 41st District, which includes the heavily LGBTQ+ city of Palm Springs. Redistricting placed incumbent Republican Ken Calvert in the district, and Calvert has been trying to downplay his homophobic record. Rollins is endorsed by Victory Fund.
Robert Zimmerman, a gay man, is running for U.S. House from New York’s Third Congressional District, which includes most of Long Island’s north shore. The incumbent, Democrat Tom Suozzi, is not seeking reelection. Zimmerman runs a communications firm and is a former congressional staffer. A Victory Fund endorsee, he’s up against another gay man, Republican George Santos.
George Santos, a gay man, is a Republican running against gay Democrat Robert Zimmerman in New York’s Third Congressional District, located on Long Island. Santos has taken largely conservative positions. It’s the first time two out members of the LGBTQ+ community are running against each other in a general election.
Jimmy Ausbrooks, a gay man who works as a mental health counselor, is seeking to become the first out member of Kentucky’s congressional delegation. A Democrat, he’s running for U.S. House in the First District against anti-LGBTQ+ Republican incumbent James Comer.
In 2018, Colorado’s Jared Polis became the first out gay man elected governor of any U.S. state; this year he’s seeking to become the first one reelected. A former congressman and entrepreneur, he’s endorsed by Victory Fund. He’s running against Republican Heidi Ganahl and some minor-party candidates.
Tina Kotek is one of two women seeking to become the first out lesbian governors in the U.S. Kotek, running in Oregon, was the first lesbian speaker of the state’s House. A Democrat, she’s up against Republican Christine Drazan and independent Betsy Johnson. The current governor, Democrat Kate Brown, was the nation’s first out bi governor. Brown is retiring due to term limits. Kotek is endorsed by Victory Fund.
Maura Healey of Massachusetts is also seeking to become the nation’s first out lesbian governor. A Democrat, she has been the state’s attorney general since 2015. She’s running against Republican Jeff Diehl and Libertarian Kevin Reed. The current governor, moderate Republican Charlie Baker, is retiring. Healey is endorsed by Victory Fund.
Ricardo Lara, California’s insurance commissioner, became the Golden State’s first out statewide elected official in 2018. The gay Democrat is running for reelection this year against Republican Robert Howell. Lara is endorsed by Victory Fund.
Lesbian Democrat Dana Nessel became Michigan’s first out statewide elected official four years ago when voters selected her as attorney general. She’s being challenged this year by Republican Matthew DePerno, who’s been spreading the lie that Donald Trump won Michigan’s electoral votes in 2020. Nessel is endorsed by Victory Fund.
Josh Tenorio, a gay man, is running for a second term as lieutenant governor of Guam, a U.S. territory. He was the first out member of the LGBTQ+ community to be elected lieutenant governor in the nation. A Democrat, he’s up against Republican Vincente Ada. Tenorio is endorsed by Victory Fund.
Erick Russell, a gay Democrat running for Connecticut treasurer, stands to become the first Black out LGBTQ+ statewide elected official in the nation. The current treasurer, Sean Wooden, is not seeking reelection. Russell is up against Republican Harry Arora, independent Jennifer Baldwin, and Libertarian JoAnna Laiscell. Russell is endorsed by Victory Fund.
Michael Pieciak, a gay man who has held appointed positions overseeing insurance and finance in Vermont, is seeking to become state treasurer; he and Connecticut’s Erick Russell would be the first out members of the LGBTQ+ community to become state treasurers. Vermont’s current treasurer, Democrat Beth Pearce, is retiring. Pieciak, also a Democrat, is up against Republican H. Brooke Paige. Pieciak has Victory Fund’s endorsement.
Kris Mayes, a gay woman, is seeking to become Arizona’s first out attorney general. She is a longtime consumer advocate who has served as an Arizona corporation commissioner. A Democrat, she’s up against Republican Abe Hamadeh; the incumbent, Republican Mike Brnovich, is retiring due to term limits. Mayes is endorsed by Victory Fund.
Mary Yu was the first Asian American, first Latina, and first out LGBTQ+ member of the Washington State Supreme Court, which she joined in 2014. A lesbian, she is of Chinese and Mexican heritage. She is unopposed in her race for reelection to the court. The race is nonpartisan. Yu is endorsed by Victory Fund.
G. Helen Whitener
G. Helen Whitener, a lesbian, is running for a second term on the Washington State Supreme Court. She is unopposed in the nonpartisan race. She is endorsed by Victory Fund.
John Ehrlich, a gay Democrat, is running to be the first out judge on the Illinois Appellate Court. He is unopposed in his race for a vacant seat. He is endorsed by Victory Fund.