Political Notes: CA LGBTQ candidates among Victory Fund's record endorsees

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Monday October 3, 2022
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Richmond City Council candidate Cesar Zepeda; Cotati City Council candidate Kathleen Rivers, Ph.D.; and Cupertino City Council candidate J.R. Fruen have all been endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund. Photos: Courtesy the candidates
Richmond City Council candidate Cesar Zepeda; Cotati City Council candidate Kathleen Rivers, Ph.D.; and Cupertino City Council candidate J.R. Fruen have all been endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund. Photos: Courtesy the candidates

A national group that helps to elect LGBTQ people to public office across the country has now endorsed a record number of out candidates running in the 2022 midterms. Among the 464 candidates backed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund are 89 LGBTQ people from California.

Of those, 77 are on the fall ballot. The other 12 either dropped out or lost their primary races in June.

According to the Victory Fund, it marks the first time in its 31-year history that it has surpassed the 400 mark for making endorsements in an election year. Two years ago the organization endorsed 390 LGBTQ candidates.

Meanwhile, the actual number of LGBTQ candidates running this year is likely to also be historic and total more than 1,006 LGBTQ candidates who launched campaigns throughout 2020, according to a tally by the Victory Fund. Of those, 782 were known to have made it on to a ballot that year.

With anti-LGBTQ legislation being adopted in state legislatures, and concerns that a Republican-held U.S. Congress could target federal LGBTQ rights, the stakes of the 2022 midterm elections "could not be higher," stated Victory Fund President & CEO Annise Parker.

"The good news is that with a Rainbow Wave of candidates running like never before, it is also clear the LGBTQ community's political power is stronger than ever," stated Parker. "With just 40 days until the midterm election, we must do everything in our power to ensure these highly qualified LGBTQ candidates win on Election Day. This is a moment for action. We are fired up, we are motivated and we are unified."

Among the Golden State LGBTQ candidates who picked up the Victory Fund's backing last week were Imperial Beach at-large City Councilmember Paloma Aguirre, who is vying to become the first out bisexual Latina mayor of the San Diego County city, and Pedro Chavez, aiming to become the first out gay Latino city councilmember in the Ventura County city of Santa Paula.

Three gay men running for election to the Palm Springs City Council also picked up the Victory Fund's backing of their candidacies. Scott Nevins is seeking the District 1 seat in the LGBTQ retirement and tourist mecca; Jeffrey Bernstein is vying for the District 2 seat; and Ron deHarte is running to represent District 3.

In nearby Palm Desert the Victory Fund is supporting Carlos Garcia, a gay man seeking the District 2 seat on the City Council. In San Diego County, the national group endorsed gay Chula Vista City Councilmember Steve Padilla for the open Senate District 18 seat he is expected to easily win in November.

In the Bay Area the Victory Fund last week endorsed a number of out city council candidates. One is assured of being elected, as lesbian Cotati resident Kathleen Rivers, Ph.D., is unopposed in her race for a city council seat in the Sonoma County city.

Gay Cupertino candidate J.R. Fruen picked up the group's backing. He is running a second time to serve on his city council.

Three Contra Costa County city council candidates also picked up endorsements from the Victory Fund last week. It is supporting lesbian El Cerrito resident Carolyn Wysinger, and Richmond candidates Cesar Zepeda, who is gay and running for the District 2 council seat, and District 4 candidate Jamin Pursell, who is queer and nonbinary.

"The Victory Fund plays a big part in making sure LGBTQ candidates, which don't have the same networks straight people do, get into office and be able to promote human rights everybody deserves. It is huge; it means a lot," Pursell, a first-time candidate for public office, told the Bay Area Reporter about having the organization's support. "Because it is a national organization, you know people are looking at you and it really matters."

To see all of the Victory Fund's 2022 fall ballot endorsed candidates in California and across the country, click here.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail m.bajko@ebar.com

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