The Rainbow Wave in the Election

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

LGBTQ candidates made more significant strides towards becoming elected officials than ever before in this year’s midterm elections. Some advocates are calling it a “rainbow wave.”

With results still coming in, more than 400 LGBTQ candidates have won elections so far. That’s about to surpass the number for 2020 and for 2018.

The LGBTQ Victory Institute, a research arm of the Victory Fund, reported that 1,065 LGBTQ people ran for office this year. Of those 678 individuals made it to the general election. With 400 wins at this point, there is a 58% midterm success rate among queer candidates.

Of the over 1,000 gay candidates for office this year, 89% are on the Democratic side of the aisle. But queer voters more broadly supported Democrats by 84%. 15% backed Republicans.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund’s president and CEO, Annise Parker, recently said in a statement that the “rainbow wave” is a “clear rebuke to the increased homophobia and transphobia sweeping our communities.”

“Bigots tried their best to undermine our power – but failed,” she said in a statement. “Because of them we were motivated more than ever before and gave out votes to the future of marriage equality, abortion and all the issues that matter most.”

Queer candidates had a good night at the ballot box. Maura Healey was elected as the first openly lesbian governor in the US. Her victory follows two other queer democrats who have been elected to serve as their state’s governor: Kate Brown, who succeeded John Kitzhaber when he resigned following accusations that he misused his role to enrich himself and his family, and Jared Polis, who won an overwhelming victory Tuesday night.

In her victory speech, Healey spoke to “every little girl and every young LGBTQ person out there.”

“I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever you want to be,” she said. “No one can ever get in your way except for your own imagination and that’s not going to happen.”

Allegedly, Kon Kotek could be joined by Healey in her historic feat of becoming the first woman to be Speaker of the House in decades. As of Thursday afternoon, Kotek’s race for Oregon Governor was too close to call, according to NBC News.

Several congressional candidates became notable LGBTQ firsts.

Becca Balint, the winner of an at-large House seat in Vermont and the first woman and gay person elected to Congress from that state, is not alone. The same thing can be said for Eric Sorensen, who won Illinois’ 17th Congressional District, making him the first gay person elected to Congress from his state.

Florida’s Congressional District race was won by Democrat Robert Garcia, who will be the first gay immigrant in Congress. Even though George Santos didn’t win this election, he is still notable as the first out-and-proud gay Republican to be elected to Congress and the only queer Republican in either chamber.


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