Preview: Tomorrow's Primaries in Florida & Arizona

Florida

Tomorrow primary voters in Florida and Arizona have an opportunity to move equality forward in their states by voting for exciting, viable Victory-endorsed LGBT candidates. Two Congressional candidates, one from each state, are running impressive campaigns that have captured the excitement of voters. And Florida has an unprecedented and surprising number of viable openly LGBT candidates running this election cycle, given the state is still rated a low-equality state by the Movement Advancement Project. If elected, these Florida candidates can make a significant impact on LGBT equality in the state.  

If you are a Florida or Arizona resident, be sure to vote tomorrow! If you have friends and family who are LGBT or allies in those states, be sure to share these names and encourage them to vote tomorrow. The turnout is likely to be extremely low – and winners determined by just a few hundred votes – so your efforts and vote matters! 

ARIZONA

US Congress

Matt Heinz (District 2)

Arizona House of Representatives

Daniel Hernandez (District 2)

FLORIDA

US Congress

Bob Poe (District 10)

Florida Senate

Michael Góngora (District 38)

Florida House of Representatives

Carlos Guillermo Smith (District 49)

Ken Keechl (District 93)

David Richardson (District 113)

Beth Tuura (District 47)

Jennifer Webb (District 69)

Local Elections

Kevin Beckner (Hillsborough Clerk of the Circuit Court)

Alan Clendenin (Hillsborough County School Board, District 7)

Lea Krauss (Broward County Circuit Court)

Steve Smith (Florida Keys Mosquito Control Commission, District 3)

Ryan Zinke's "good friend" compares marriage equality to incest

Ryan Zinke

Above: Denise Juneau's anti-LGBT opponent Ryan Zinke.

“A couple weeks ago, my good friend, Congressman Trey Gowdy visited Montana,” began US Rep. Ryan Zinke in his op-ed for the Glasgow Courier.

Reading the first sentence was enough for us.

Trey Gowdy is among the most notorious anti-LGBT members of Congress, having compared marriage equality to polygamy and incest, and opposing basic non-discrimination protects for LGBT people. That he is “good friends” with Zinke isn’t surprising – given Zinke voted to allow government contractors to discriminate against LGBT workers – but it provides a stark choice for Montanans when they enter the voting booth in November.

While Zinke and his hate-mongering birds of a feather use their power to attack LGBT people, Zinke’s opponent in the race, Victory-endorsed candidate Denise Juneau, has dedicated her life to serving all Montanans.  As head of Montana’s public schools, she increased graduation rates to the highest level in state history, improving the lives of young people and boosting Montana’s economy. And as an openly lesbian woman she has vowed to serve all Montanans – and to forgo the nasty politics of division.

We need Denise’s voice in Congress come November. 

Jim Gray says anti-LGBT company should "adapt to the times"

Jim Gray

While attending a Kentucky Farm Bureau annual breakfast this morning, Victory-endorsed US Senate candidate Jim Gray told reporters the insurance company should "adapt to the times" and change its long-held anti-LGBT policies. The company opposes marriage equality and benefits for same-sex partners, and its president says he will “not apologize” for the “principles… which have served our nation [and company] very well for a long time.”

While many attendees – including Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin – defended the company's positions and joked at the expense of pro-LGBT protestors, Jim said he shared the protestor’s concerns and attended the event “to engage those who have different points of view in order to find common ground and shared values.”

Jim’s willingness to speak openly about LGBT equality while connecting with voters who disagree exemplifies his courage and leadership. Two qualities which voters, incidentally, find lacking in his opponent Rand Paul. 

Voter registration efforts give Matt Heinz boost in District 2

Following months of voter outreach efforts in Arizona, new registration numbers released by the secretary of state are great news for Victory candidate Matt Heinz.

In District 2, which includes parts of Pima and Cochise Counties, Democrats have added thousands of new voters. The district is one of the country’s most competitive: Republican Rep. Martha McSally won the seat in 2014 by only 167 votes.

Democrats have added more party-affiliated voters than Republicans. In Pima County, Democratic registration went up by 7 percent while Republican registration went up only 3 percent. 

The 2016 cycle is expected to be just as competitive, and the new registration totals are expected to boost Victory candidate Dr. Matt Heinz.

The announcement follows a number of recent developments in Heinz’s favor. Last month the Congressional political arm of the Democratic Party added Heinz’s race as an “Emerging Race” in its Red to Blue program, allowing the party to devote resources and money to the district. Ahead of next week’s primary, Heinz picked up the endorsement of the state’s largest newspaper, The Arizona Republic. And presidential race polling numbers in the state led the Clinton campaign to deploy field organizers in the state who will boost down-ballot Democrats.

Meanwhile, Heinz has repeatedly called out his opponent for her refusal to denounce presidential candidate Donald Trump. While she’s distanced herself from the controversial candidate, Martha McSally has said she might still vote for him.

The primary takes place next Tuesday, August 30.

Support Matt Heinz with a direct contribution. >>

Kentucky Democratic Party Funding is Good News for Jim Gray

Jim Gray

Victory-endorsed US Senatorial candidate Jim Gray is making headlines across the nation for his increasingly promising effort to unseat Senator Rand Paul in Kentucky. Polls show voters souring on Rand Paul prioritizing a presidential run over the needs of Kentuckians, and Jim’s positive message and concern for real issues is resonating with residents.

And there is more good news. In the last month, the Hillary Victory Fund transferred $793,000 to the Kentucky Democratic Party, according to a McClatchy DC report. This funding influx will help Jim’s message reach more Kentuckians, as he makes a strong case to voters about the substantive change he’ll bring to Washington.  

More from McClatchy DC:

According to Federal Election Commission filings, the Hillary Victory Fund made separate transfers of $600,000 and $193,000 to the Kentucky State Democratic Central Executive Committee in July.

Those contributions accounted for the bulk of the $913,000 the committee raised last month and made July the state party’s best single month for fundraising since November 2015, when Democrats lost the governor’s mansion.

Equality Florida Action PAC announces support for Victory-endorsed candidates

Equality Florida Action PAC announced endorsements for 22 candidates in the state yesterday, including Victory-endorsed state legislative candidates Ken Keechl, Michael Góngora and David Richardson. The endorsements come during a historic year for LGBT Floridians. Never before have so many viable, LGBT candidates run for office in the state, which the Movement Advancement Project labels a “low-equality” state for LGBT people. The potential increase in LGBT representation at both the local and state levels provides an exciting opportunity to move equality forward for LGBT Floridians.

Previously, Equality Florida Action PAC endorsed Victory-endorsed candidates Beth Tuura, Carlos Guillermo Smith, Jennifer Webb and Alan Clendenin. The organization endorses candidates that are “champions of LGBT equality” and “running a strong and competitive campaign.” Unlike Victory Fund, Equality Florida Action PAC does not require candidates identify as LGBT.

A complete list of Equality Florida Action PAC endorsements can be found on their website.

Denise Juneau's Opponent Willing to Politicize & Sell Public Lands

Denise Juneau

Victory-endorsed candidate Denise Juneau grew up in rural Montana and can trace her family’s roots back to before it was even a state. She knows Montanans, and her long ties to the people and the land make both a priority in her race to become the sole Congressional representative from the state. Her desire to look after the interests of the average Montanan – and not the elite political class – is drawing a stark contrast between her and incumbent Ryan Zinke, who is willing to politicize and unnecessarily sell the public lands cherished by Montanans.

Whereas Denise vows to fiercely defend public lands and as a member of Montana’s Land Board voted to open up 40,000 acres to public access, Rep. Zinke has voted to transfer management of state land to politically-appointed boards that do not have the best interests of Montanans at heart. In Congress Zinke supported a budget to sell-off state land in order to pay down the national debt, and in 2012 signed the Montana Constitutional Governance Pledge, which aimed to privatize long-held public lands.

Denise is entirely opposed to the sale or transfer of Montana’s public lands, and recognizes those lands are responsible for a significant portion of the state’s $6 billion per year recreation economy, which employs more than 60,000 people. Her opponent ignores this reality, and is more concerned with his popularity among DC colleagues than in supporting the workers and economy of Montana.

Denise is emblematic of why representation matters. She is a long-time Montanan who understands the concerns of average residents because she is one of them. If elected, she would also become the first Native American woman in Congress and first openly LGBT member from Montana, and she would be a fierce advocate for equality. When communities are represented, it changes the conversation. Denise's advocacy on behalf of average Montanans, Native Americans and the LGBT community is desperately needed in Washington. 

Tina Podlodowski Promotes Voting Rights in Second Debate

Tina Podlodowski and her opponent Kim Wyman debated for a second time in Spokane, Washington on August 17. Over the course of an hour, both candidates touted their resumes and the direction they want to take elections as Washington’s Secretary of State.

Tina Podlodowski made clear she is the candidate that will expand voting rights and ensure all eligible people are able to vote. Podlodowski noted that under Kim Wyman’s supervision, elections in Washington have seen dismal voter turnout, contrary to the promises Wyman made when she first ran for office. In order to increase election participation, Victory-endorsed Podlodowski said her plan that includes auditing the election system and expanding the state’s voter registration.

She explained, “I don’t think we have to accept poor performance when it comes to turnout.”

Tina Podlodowski is one of Victory’s Spotlight Candidates running in Washington. If elected, she would be the nation’s first LGBT Secretary of State.

Beth Tuura responds to opponent's gun incident

This week it was revealed that Victory Spotlight Candidate Beth Tuura's primary opponent was charged with entering a federal building with a loaded handgun without the safety on. 

In a statement, Tuura's campaign responded by calling out Lim's recklessness and questioning his ability to stand up to the gun lobby: 

Henry Lim broke federal law and put real lives at risk when he carried a loaded weapon into a federal building. His carelessness and poor judgment demonstrates he is not the leader we need to prevent gun violence and confront Rick Scott and the NRA. On June 12, 49 members of our community lost their lives at Pulse nightclub because of our state’s failure to adopt common-sense gun violence prevention measures. Our community needs a leader in Tallahassee with the judgment and passion to take on the entrenched gun lobby to achieve common sense reforms. I will be that leader.

As a lesbian woman running to represent the district where the Pulse massacre took place, these 49 victims and their families affect me deeply. They are my motivation to secure universal background checks, prevent violent offenders from obtaining firearms, and ban military-style assault rifles. Lim’s illegal and reckless behavior demonstrates he is unable to follow the lax gun laws already in place, and that he cannot be trusted to advance the Democratic values my campaign is fighting for every day in Florida.

Read more from Florida Politics

Tuura is running to represent District 47 in the Florida House. She has made gun violence prevention and LGBT rights a central part of her campaign. 

Learn more about Beth Tuura >>

LGBT candidates take center stage in Florida elections

Above: Openly gay Florida state legislator Rep. David Richardson.

Considering Florida currently has only one openly LGBT person serving in the legislature, it is remarkable that 12 out LGBT candidates are running for office this year in the sunshine state. Given the state is rated “low equality” by the Movement Advancement Project, it is clear each candidate knows well the challenges that face LGBT people in Florida and throughout the country.

The record number of LGBT people running makes it a historic opportunity to change the status quo in Florida, because representation matters. Victory research shows states with more openly LGBT lawmakers have higher levels of equality, and that LGBT lawmakers heavily influence the votes of their straight lawmaker colleagues.

“Very rarely in what we call ‘low-equality states’ do you have so many qualified, viable LGBT candidates running for office,” said Victory Fund’s Director of Communications Elliot Imse in a Florida Politics article. “That’s a really important opportunity for the LGBT coalition because representation matters.”

Victory-endorsed candidates in Florida include Bob Poe for Congress and Beth Tuura, David Richardson, Ken Keechl, and Carlos Guillermo Smith running for seats in the state legislature. All of their primaries are slated for August 30th.

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