The Agenda

May 15 Primaries: 7 LGBTQ Candidates on the Ballot

Above: Pennsylvania State House candidate Malcolm Kenyatta.

Update, 11:36pm ET: Six of seven Victory Fund endorsed candidates with primaries tonight won their races. Learn more.


Seven Victory Fund-endorsed candidates have primary elections today — with the biggest races to watch in Pennsylvania.

Our Game Changer candidate Ashley Lunkenheimer faces nine primary opponents in her race for U.S. Congress. Ashley will become the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Pennsylvania if elected, and the only Congresswoman in the state. The winner of the primary victory is likely to win the general election in November.

Malcolm Kenyatta, our Spotlight candidate running for Pennsylvania House of Representatives, will become the first openly LGBTQ person of color to serve in the state legislature if elected. He faces four Democratic primary opponents in his heavily Democratic district. Openly queer candidate Kristin Seale is also running for the Pennsylvania state House and will be the first queer person elected to a state-level position if she wins in November. State Rep. Brian Sims, currently the only LGBTQ person serving in the state legislature, is running unopposed.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, a Game Changer candidate, should easily win her primary election today. Oregon State Rep. Karin Power and Idaho State Rep. John McCrostie are running unopposed in the primary.

More information about our contested primary races below.

Malcolm Kenyatta
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 181

Malcolm Kenyatta is a proud native of North Philadelphia, a place he’s called home for all of his twenty-seven years. A fierce civic, community, and LGBTQ advocate in Philadelphia, Malcolm often needs no introduction. Many of us have seen him speaking up for the marginalized and poor members of the community at rallies, vigils, block cleanups, and even as a delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention garnering the 2nd most votes in the commonwealth. He is a member of the board for Smith Memorial Playground, the Liberty City Democratic Club, and the local chapter of the National Organization for Women. Civic engagement also runs in his blood as the grandson of Muhammad Kenyatta, a civil rights leader and local politician who ran for mayor in 1975. Too often, Malcolm sees his community labeled a violent wasteland. However, there is no lack of possibility in North Philadelphia – just a lack of resources. His neighbors deserve schools that teach, jobs that provide quality wages, and homes that they can live in. Malcolm grew up in the projects, attended Temple University, and continues to live and invest in the same place he was raised because he believes in it.

Election Summary

Malcolm faces 4 opponents in this primary election: local pastor Lewis Nash, Lewis Thomas who is most notable for being fired from a Brooklyn school for dramatically overstating his qualifications, Alex Deering, and Gilberto Gonzalez. Milton Street, former state legislator and current perennial candidate, is running as a Republican in this heavily Democratic district.

Poll Times

Polls are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET on Election Day.

Election News/Reporting Sites

Ashley Lunkenheimer
U.S. House of Representatives, PA-05

Ashley Lunkenheimer is a former federal prosecutor and healthcare advocate. As an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Ashley spent nearly a decade protecting communities from violent drug gangs, gun violence and financial fraud. Following her time in the United States Attorney’s office, Ashley worked as Senior Counsel at AmeriHealth Caritas. She helped expand Medicaid in Pennsylvania by working to implement a new program that increases access to quality preventative healthcare for thousands of underserved residents. Ashley has provided pro bono legal work and volunteered her time at a number of non-profit organizations. At the Legal Aid Society, she helped investigate child abuse. She represented low-income tenants in Landlord and Tenant Court at Bread for the City. And at the Urban Justice Center, she represented mentally ill psychiatric patients seeking supportive housing. She also has a Master’s of Social Work from Columbia University and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Ashley and her wife, Starla, live in Upper Providence, where they are raising their three children, ages eight, seven, and six.

Election Summary

Incumbent GOP Congressman Glenn Thompson is moving to the 15th district following court-ordered redistricting, and the new PA-05 more closely resembles the old PA-07. Incumbent GOP Congressman Patrick Meehan is retiring at the end of this term following sexual harassment allegations, and this open seat is now likely Democratic or solidly Democratic. Ashley faces nine primary opponents, most notable are Mary Gay Scanlon, a former President of the Wallington-Swarthmore School Board, former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Rich Lazer, and attorney and former congressional Chief of Staff Daniel Muroff. The winner will go on to face the sole Republican in the race, Pearl Kim, who recently resigned as Deputy State Attorney to run for this seat.

Poll Times

Polls are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET on Election Day

Election News/Reporting Sites

Kate Brown
Governor of Oregon

Governor Kate Brown is the country’s first and only LGBTQ governor. For more than 25 years, Kate has been fighting for jobs and kids, working to make Oregon a state where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. She has a long and established record of fighting for working families, better education, a cleaner environment, and making our government more transparent and efficient than ever. Prior to her career in elected office, Kate worked as a child advocate and a juvenile and family law attorney. She taught at Portland State University, worked with the Juvenile Rights Project and co-founded the Oregon Women’s Health & Wellness Alliance. She lives in Portland with her husband Dan.

Election Summary

Kate faces non-viable candidates Ed Jones and Candace Neville in her primary election. The Republican field is crowded however and State Rep. Knute Buehler is largely seen as the frontrunner.

Poll Times

Oregon is a vote-by-mail state. A voter can still vote on Election Day at their local municipal clerk’s office, however, between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT.

Election News/Reporting Sites

Kristin Seale
Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 168

Kristin Seale was raised by a hard working single mother in Baltimore, MD, and spent her childhood volunteering with and without her mother at the MD School for the Blind, a homeless breakfast, peer groups for children of separation and divorce, and the first wave of people living with HIV/AIDS. In 5th grade Kristin was elected Class Executive and worked that school year leading her grade in work with a state legislator on Maryland’s first child safety seat bill, including testifying at a hearing in Annapolis. By the end of that school year the law passed, and Kristin was hooked on community-led public service. Kristin is Director of Operations for an energy nonprofit in Philadelphia, and has been a public servant throughout her career. She has a long track record of protecting and supporting communities in public health, poverty law and energy. Kristin earned a Bachelor’s of Public and Community Health from New Mexico State University, and a Masters of Public Administration from Villanova University.

Election Summary

Kristin faces Chester Heights Borough Councilman Phillip Block in the Democratic Primary. The winner will go on to face Republican Incumbent State Rep. Christopher Quinn who this seat in a 2016 special election.

Poll Times

Polls are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET on Election Day.

Election News/Reporting Sites