The Agenda

Year in Review: LGBTQ Victory Fund’s Most-Read Stories of 2018

1. Time cover features Danica Roem and 4 other Victory Fund candidates.

“Five out lesbian and transgender women endorsed by the Victory Fund have landed on the cover of Time, as part of the magazine’s story about the flood of women running for office in response to President Trump and Republvicicans’ actions at the federal and state levels,” per Metro Weekly.


2. Victory Fund drives IE campaign to bolster support for Rep. Nickie Antonio. 

In one of our must-win races of the cycle, Victory Fund went all-in to inform Ohio voters about the dirty tricks lobbed against state Rep. Nickie Antonio, Ohio’s first out state legislator. Martin Sweeney had been playing dirty from the get-go, even trying to conceal information that he once spent $90,000 of taxpayer money to bury sexual assault allegations from his days on the Cleveland City Council. The Victory Fund-backed mailer compared Sweeney’s past to that of Harvey Weinstein, speaking directly to the power of the #MeToo movement. 

3. NYT: ‘A ‘Rainbow Wave’? 2018 Has More L.G.B.T. Candidates Than Ever’.

In one of our most-read media hits of the year, Liam Stack and Catie Edmondson brought the influx of LGBTQ candidate into the national discourse. The piece mentioned a quote from friend of Victory and University of North Carolina political scientist Andrew Reynolds: “‘[I’m] not convinced there will be a dramatic increase in the number of statehouse members.’ ‘It’s not like a massive rainbow wave that will dominate news stories,’ he said.” This was the first major media hit with the phrase “Rainbow Wave” and, with all due respect to Professor Reynolds, we were intent on exceeding his expectations. P.S. Buy his book. 

A meme from Mean Girls that reads, "stop trying to make the "rainbow wave" happen, it's not going to happen.

4. Mayor Annise Parker discusses the Rainbow Wave on ‘Morning Joe’.

Mayor Parker shared her perspective on the rise of anti-LGBTQ legislation in statehouses around the country, and how this and the Trump Administration motivated hundreds of viable LGBTQ candidates to throw their hats in the ring for the first time.

5. Washington Post Analysis: ‘In 2018, transgender women are running for governor, Congress and more’.

“This year has been especially notable in that we have more trans women running for office than at any other time in history,” said Elliot Imse of Victory Fund, which helps elect LGBTQ candidates. He pointed to the 2017 victories of Virginia Del. Danica Roem (D) and Minneapolis City Council member Andrea Jenkins (D) as helping pave the way for more transgender candidates to emerge in this cycle, per the Washington Post

6. Christine Hallquist becomes Democratic nominee for Governor of Vermont.

Via the New York Times“Christine’s victory is a defining moment in the movement for trans equality and is especially remarkable given how few out trans elected officials there are at any level of government,” said Annise Parker, the chief executive of the L.G.B.T.Q. Victory Fund, which trains and supports gay and transgender candidates, in a statement on Tuesday evening. “Yet Vermont voters chose Christine not because of her gender identity, but because she is an open and authentic candidate with a long history of service to the state, and who speaks to the issues most important to voters.”

Christine Hallquist stops by Victory HQ

7. Historic Wins leave just four states that have yet to elect any LGBTQ state legislators.

The Advocate wasted no time in commenting on some of the year’s most groundbreaking historic firsts. Voters in Kansas, Indiana, and Nebraska sent out members to their state houses, with Brandon Woodard, Susan Ruiz (both in Kansas), JD Ford (Indiana), and Megan Hunt (Nebraska). Additionally, we quadrupled the number of trans state legislators – with  Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker in New Hampshire and Brianna Titone in Colorado – and elected openly LGBTQ people of color to state legislatures in Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania for the first time, with Shevrin Jones, Lamont Robinson, and Malcolm Kenyatta. This leaves just four states that have never sent an Out member to the statehouse.

8. The “Rainbow Wave” goes global. 

From The New York Times to Le Monde in Paris to The Times of India to DW, Germany’s largest news station and the largest Brazilian newspaper our Rainbow Wave made worldwide headlines and impact.

9. Wilton Manors, FL joins Palm Springs as the nation’s second all-LGBTQ city council.

“According to Victory Fund, an organization that works to increase the number of openly LGBTQ officials in all levels of government, Wilton Manors is the second city in the United States to have a city council with all gay members, after Palm Springs, California,” per CNN.

10. Washington Post amplifies Kansas’ rapid political transformation, thanks largely to these three ‘Friends of Dorothy’.

“Ruiz, Woodard and Davids took advantage of the changing attitudes here, along with broader anti-Trump sentiment, part of a midterm that saw a record number of LGBTQ politicians elected across the country. Openly gay candidates won 147 state-level positions nationwide in November, and the number in Congress rose from seven to 10, according to the Victory Fund, which raised a record $2 million on behalf of LGBTQ candidates this election cycle,” via Washington Post.

Kansas Wins 2018

11. NBC News highlights Victory Institute research on the LGBTQ community’s underrepresentation. 

“There are only 559 known openly LGBTQ elected officials in the U.S., just 0.1 percent of elected officials nationwideaccording to a new Victory Institute report. To achieve proportionate representation, America’s estimated 11 million LGBTQ adults (roughly 4.5 percent of the adult population), would need to hold nearly 23,000 more public offices, a 4,000 percent increase, according to the report.

“We’ve come a long way since the first out elected officials assumed office in the mid-’70s,” Parker told NBC News. “But we still have a long way to go, certainly to achieve parity in representation, but also a long way to go to fully secure our rights.” Via NBC. 

12. A recurring theme: the power of representation and the impact our candidates make on the political landscape. 

Outlet after outlet highlighted just how important LGBTQ representation is in government. This isn’t just because of our disproportionately low numbers in public office – but because our candidates reveal new possibilities for LGBTQ youth, future candidates, and our community members most at the margins.

  • Teen Vogue wrote about how Lauren Baer’s congressional race inspired a bisexual teen to volunteer, overcome adversity, and get engaged in the political process for the first time.
  • The Advocate covered California state Sen. Mark Leno’s unabashedly gay campaign, this amazing ad, and his intersectional campaign model to build bridges with other communities.
  • Billy Penn covered Kristin Seale’s ability to mobilize an army of volunteers in her race for Pennsylvania State House.
  • NewNowNext highlighted how Danielle Skidmore’s identity as a transgender candidate for City Council, special needs parent, and transportation engineer prompted her revolutionary plan for affordable housing and accessibility in Austin.
  • And just look at the students at John Jay High School’s ROTC program when they recognize John Jay alumnus and congressional candidate Gina Ortiz Jones.
  • Or how Florida state Rep. David Richardson worked with Parkland students in the aftermath of unspeakable gun violence.
  • And on, and on, and on.

At Victory Institute’s International LGBTQ Leaders Conference, former Congressman Barney Frank gave the following advice to first-time candidates: “As to whether you should run or not, why not? What do you got to lose?  The worst thing that happens if you lose is that you weren’t something that you weren’t before. The negative consequences — I don’t know of any Out candidate who ran for office and lost and suffered anything other than simply not having the office.”

Barney Frank and Jonathan Capehart share a moment

Congressman Frank is absolutely right. But not only do LGBTQ candidates not have anything to lose, but there’s enormous power through running in the first place. Being visible and placing our community’s issues front and center makes a difference whether or not all of our candidates make it through at the end of the day.  

What are you waiting for? Let us know if you’re planning a run yourself, and apply to a Victory Institute Candidate & Campaign Training to learn more about how to start planning and ultimately win!