To quote LGBTQ U.S. Congresswoman Angie Craig: “It’s going to be a hell of a fight to hold the House.”
For a variety of reasons, including biased redistricting efforts and outlandish opponents, 2022 will be a tough year for pro-equality candidates in the U.S. House. Right now, Victory Fund is laser-focused on not only protecting our incumbent Congressional candidates in swing districts but ensuring LGBTQ candidates flip key seats. Here’s a breakdown of our Congressional swing seats (so far!*) – and what we’re watching out for in their races.
Incumbent U.S. Representative Angie Craig is once again in the crosshairs of anti-equality forces. Since defeating bigot Jason Lewis in 2018, anti-LGBTQ leaders have been trying to flip Angie’s seat back.
The gridlocked state legislature has until February 15th to pass Congressional maps. If the legislature cannot come to an agreement, a panel of judges will draw the lines themselves. In many of the proposed maps, Angie’s district is a tossup and considered highly competitive.
Regardless of which body draws the congressional maps, Angie will be competing with a host of anti-equality candidates trying to remove one of the strongest LGBTQ voices in Congress. This will be one of the most competitive races in Minnesota. Tyler Kistner, Angie’s opponent from 2020, announced his candidacy for Angie’s seat last year. Angie was able to defeat Tyler and another third-party candidate who was recruited to draw votes away from Angie in 2020. We expect more of these thinly veiled attempts to attack Angie in her reelection bid this year.
In 2018, Angie shattered a rainbow ceiling as the first out LGBTQ person elected to Congress from Minnesota.
Anti-equality forces are targeting incumbent U.S. Representative Sharice Davids, aiming to split the county that contains Kansas City for the first time since the 1980s. This may result in Sharice’s district becoming favorable for Republicans by three points. While Governor Laura Kelly has vetoed the current redistricting map that targets Sharice, there may be enough votes for an override. Should the maps pass, Sharice’s reelection campaign will be the most contentious race in the state.
Sharice won Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District in 2018, becoming one of the first two Native American women ever to serve in Congress and the first out LGBTQ member of Congress from Kansas. Sharice will be facing an uphill battle to remain a diverse voice in the U.S. House. Sharice’s opponent, Amanda Adkins, is a former employee of Governor Sam Brownback. Adkins ran against Sharice in 2020.
Incumbent U.S. Congressman Chris Pappas is facing a fierce campaign cycle to secure his reelection to Congress. He will most likely face a rematch with his 2020 competitor, former Trump administration official Matt Mowers. Mowers is jockeying for Trump’s endorsement yet again. During the 2020 cycle, Matt made bigoted, anti-LGBTQ remarks towards Chris during a debate as a move to embrace more ‘Trumpian tactics.’ Other formidable opponents include Karoline Leavitt, who previously worked in Trump’s White House and for extremist U.S. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, and Gail Huff Brown, wife of former Trump Ambassador Scott Brown.
In addition to these opponents, Chris potentially faces the challenge of navigating a new district. Maps have been drawn by the state legislature, but New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu is asking for the lines to be redrawn. The proposed map could make both of the state’s Congressional districts less competitive and shift Chris’s district to favor Republicans.
Chris was first elected to serve the people of New Hampshire’s 1st district in November 2018. He is the first out LGBTQ person to represent New Hampshire in Washington.
Daniel is a state representative, former school board president, and lifelong Arizonan running for Congress to help Southern Arizona families. If elected, he will be the second Latinx out LGBTQ member of Congress.
Arizona’s independent redistricting commission approved a Congressional map earlier this year which places Daniel in a Republican-leaning district. Coupled with a contentious, crowded primary, Daniel’s path to Congress may be difficult. Daniel, however, is no stranger to tough fights, and has spent his career building his credentials and working to create a better Arizona.
Since 2017, Daniel has served in the Arizona State House, was one of the youngest elected officials and is a co-founder of the State House LGBTQ caucus. During the pandemic, he protected critical health care services and saved a rural hospital that treats underserved communities in Southern Arizona. He is also widely credited with saving the life of then Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in 2011, when she was shot at a constituent services event.
Sean Meloy, Victory Fund’s Senior Political Advisor, is now running for the U.S. Congress! His historic candidacy would make him the first out LGBTQ person elected to the U.S. Congress from Pennsylvania; however, the state legislature has not yet approved a Congressional map. Currently, the state’s Supreme Court is deciding whether to weigh in on over a dozen proposals from partisan officials, professors and advocacy groups.
While it is unclear how the makeup of the district he will be running in, the current representative who serves the 17th district will not be running for reelection. The open seat has emboldened a large group of candidates to run for their party’s nomination. Sean will need Victory Fund’s help to break away from this large group so that the U.S. Congress can gain a valuable voice for LGTBQ equality.
Heather is a candidate for Congress to represent the 1st district of Maryland. Heather’s election to the U.S. House would be historic, as she would be the first out LGBTQ person to represent Maryland in Congress.
She faces anti-equality Congressman Andy Harris, who is best known for bringing a gun into the Capitol building and was once rated one of the most anti-LGBTQ members of Congress. Harris was also among the dozens of lawmakers who voted to overturn the election of Joe Biden, disagrees with the notion that what happened on January 6, 2021 was in fact an ‘insurrection,’ and voted against honoring the police officers who protected the U.S. Capitol that day.
Heather’s experience in the Maryland General Assembly by leading the charge on passing marriage equality, banning fracking, enacting criminal justice reforms, and expanding health insurance for children, women, and families, makes her a powerful voice needed in Congress.
A former civil rights and social justice attorney, Michele currently serves as an advocate for underserved communities in the Florida State House. Michele made history in 2020 when she was elected as the first out LGBTQ Black woman of the Florida legislature and will be the first out LGBTQ member of the U.S. Congress from Florida.
Florida’s redistricting process has been contentious. Governor Ron DeSantis is advocating for maps that would carve up districts with people of color and LGBTQ districts, while the state Senate has kept majority Black districts intact. The maps will now head to the Florida Supreme Court.
Florida’s 13th Congressional District is currently an open seat after incumbent candidate Charlie Crist announced his campaign for governor. Currently running in a crowded primary, Michelle will face three other opponents before taking on the winner of the Republican primary.
Will is running to unseat anti-LGBTQ incumbent Congressman Ken Calvert in California. Calvert has been in office for 30 years, typically representing safe seats. The incumbent is an insurrectionist who voted against certifying the 2020 Presidential election and investigating the Jan. 6th insurrection. In his 1994 re-election, he sent an anti-LGBTQ mailer outing now-U.S. Congressman Mark Takano and has voted against several pro-equality measures. This will be one of the most competitive swing districts in California.
Will’s district became more competitive after the California legislature passed a Congressional map created by the state’s independent citizen redistricting commission. The California Independent Commission was one of the few state bodies that considered the LGBTQ community in the redistricting process. Will’s new seat now includes Palm Springs, one of the most LGBTQ-friendly towns in America, indirectly benefitting Will’s campaign.
If elected, Will would be the second out gay man elected to Congress from California. Will’s record as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, where he helped prosecute insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol last year, makes him a voice for justice in Washington.
* LGBTQ Victory Fund is preparing to endorse over 300 LGBTQ candidates during the 2022 cycle, and will we undoubtedly endorse more LGBTQ candidates for the U.S. Congress! Keep an eye on our website for future updates or sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Agenda, here.
If you are an out candidate running at any level of government, we want to hear from you! Learn more about our endorsement process or sign up for an endorsement here.
More information about all of Victory Fund’s endorsed candidates is available at victoryfund.org/ourcandidates. Since 1991, Victory Fund has helped thousands of openly LGBTQ candidates win local, state and federal elections.