Victory Fund endorsed candidate Rafer Johnson is under attack in Georgia – with thousands of homophobic text messages, emails and flyers being distributed across South Fulton, where he is running in a historic race for mayor. The ads use an image of him and his husband with the title “Husband and Husband” – a thinly guised attempt to make the election a referendum on his sexual orientation, instead of his strong economic development platform.
Rafer is poised to make history by becoming Mayor of South Fulton – the largest majority African American city ever established in the U.S. But the ads continue to be relentless – being distributed through anonymous “text message bombs,” via unsolicited emails and even through fliers littered throughout an elementary school. The attack is similar in concept and form to a previous attack on a local LGBT state senate candidate – although there is no direct evidence the two are connected.
These attacks on LGBT candidates cannot go unanswered. Contribute today so Victory Fund can fight back against anti-LGBT attacks on Rafer and other targeted LGBT candidates. When our community is attacked, our community responds.
“It makes me concerned, but more determined. I’m concerned because I hope that the voters don’t make a decision based on [the ads],” Johnson told the Georgia Voice. “That’s not who we are, as a city.”
Rafer’s run for South Fulton mayor would be a groundbreaking victory in the South at a time when LGBT elected officials in state and local government are more critical than ever. LGBT lawmakers at the state and local levels are essential for fighting back against a tidal wave of anti-LGBT legislation, and in mitigating the effects of anti-equality efforts occurring at the federal level.
Victory Fund’s Board of Directors has consistently helped drive strategy throughout the organization’s 25-year history – from endorsing our first candidate Sherry Harris to pushing Senator Tammy Baldwin to victory in 2012.
Our 2017 board members are ready to ensure Victory Fund can bring home big LGBT candidate wins this election year and beyond. Below you can learn more about our new board leadership – Chris Abele, Campbell Spencer, Chrys Lemon and Mattheus Stephens – as well as our newest member Stuart Appelbaum.
CHRIS ABELE, CHAIR
MILWAUKEE COUNTY EXECUTIVE
Chris Abele is bringing a new form of leadership to Milwaukee County and Wisconsin, redefining what government can be. By combining social responsibility and fiscal discipline, County Executive Abele has lowered the County’s deficit by more than $70 million and successfully instituted domestic partnership benefits for employees; at the same time, he has introduced three consecutive budgets that didn’t raise taxes. County Executive Abele’s bold approach has strengthened critical safety net services like public transportation, child support and mental health care.
CAMPBELL SPENCER, VICE CHAIR
FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, THE CAMPBELL SPENCER GROUP
Campbell Spencer is a nationally known Democratic strategist and public affairs consultant with more than fifteen years of experience in navigating the complex intersection of policy, business, and politics. She is a veteran of national politics, having served on three presidential campaigns, advised on numerous House and Senate races, worked for the Democratic National Committee, and served as the White House Midwest Political Director under President Obama. Spencer offers extensive expertise in developing and managing issue campaigns, field operations, legislative strategies, constituency relations, and building bi-partisan coalitions for businesses, trade associations, and non-profit organizations wishing to engage in and influence public policy debates.
CHRYS LEMON, SECRETARY
PARTNER, MCINTYRE & LEMON
Chrys is a partner in McIntyre & Lemon, PLLC, in Washington, D.C. He specializes in financial services law, particularly related to marketing of consumer financial products and services, privacy law, insurance law, and regulation of financial institutions by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Previously, Chrys was an instructor pilot in the United States Air Force as well as having worked as an analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
MATTHEUS E. STEPHENS, TREASURER
FOUNDING PARTNER, PROGRESSIVE LAW GROUP
Mattheus Stephens is a partner in the San Diego law firm Progressive Law Group (a general civil litigation firm) and a Lecturer at the University of California, San Diego, where he teaches four courses including “The Law & Sex.” His community service includes being the two-time Chair of the City of San Diego’s Human Relations Commission; serving on the Board of Directors for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center as well as the ACLU. He has also served as a Pro Tem Judge in Small Claims Court since 1999. He was appointed by Mayor Jerry Sanders to the City Civil Service Commission in 2008 and now serves as President.
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION
Stuart Appelbaum is the Executive Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. He ascended to the presidency of the RWDSU/UFCW in May of 1998 and has been reelected four times since. Stuart is an active member of the DNC, serving on its Executive Committee, and as Vice Chair of the DNC Labor Council. He is also the Vice President of the national AFL-CIO and a member of the Federation’s Executive Council.
In addition to our new leadership team and newest member Stuart Appelbaum, we are thrilled to have the continued experience and wisdom of board members:
Susan Atkins, San Diego, CA
Pia Carusone, Washington, DC
Michael Grover, Atlanta, GA
Richard Holt, Houston, TX
Kim Hoover, Washington, DC
Stephen Macias, Los Angeles, CA
Sue Burnside, Los Angeles, CA, Ex-Officio
Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, Washington, DC, Ex-Officio
Daniel Penchina, Washington, DC, Ex-Officio
Above: Rafer Johnson, one of nine candidates endorsed by Victory Fund today.
Today Victory Fund endorsed nine candidates running for office in the 2017 election season. Victory Fund aims to increase the number of LGBT elected officials at the state and local levels in 2017, to help push forward equality and mitigate the effects of anti-LGBT efforts from all levels of government. The newly endorsed candidates are:
Rafer Johnson, Mayor of South Fulton (GA)
Margaret Paul, Berwyn City Clerk (IL)
Joseph Johnston, Berwyn Township Trustee (IL)
Jose Ramirez, Berwyn Board of Alderman, Ward 2 (IL)
Jeanine Reardon, Berwyn Board of Alderman, Ward 3 (IL)
Nick Kachiroubas, Crystal Lake City Clerk (IL)
Debra Shore, Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (IL)
Ben Allatt, Harrisburg City Council (PA)
Chris Anderson, Chattanooga City Council, District 7 (TN)
For a full list of endorsed candidates, visit victoryfund.org/endorsed.
This op-ed from Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills originally appeared in The Advocate on November 9, 2016.
In Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address, he appealed to the “better angels in our nature” as the nation careened toward civil war. Yet centuries of animosity erupted, and 750,000 Americans lost their lives on the battlefield – our country divided and torn apart. But those angels eventually did prevail, when millions of enslaved people were finally given the chance to live in some semblance of freedom, and our country reunited imperfect but strong.
Last night, our better angels lost again. Voters succumbed to racist, xenophobic, sexist and transphobic demagoguery and elected a president diametrically opposed to the American values our communities, my communities, hold precious and dear. LGBT people are unique in that we span across all demographic groups. We are black, we are Latino, we are women, we are Muslim, we are undocumented, we have disabilities. What makes our community so special — our diversity — is also what makes the results of this presidential election particularly devastating for us. We are not monolithic, we are affected in so many ways.
But sometimes you need to have a breakdown to have a breakthrough. In 2004, Republican operatives placed dozens of anti-marriage equality amendments on the ballot to bolster the reelection prospects of George W. Bush. They passed, and he won. We were devastated, but the backlash was swift. In 2006 Democrats overwhelmed Republicans — winning a resounding majority in the House and Senate, trouncing them in gubernatorial races, and electing Nancy Pelosi as the first woman speaker of the House. The nation reversed itself.
Our community and our progressive allies must use this sobering moment to recognize the inexorable path toward equality will bend and shift and that it is up to us to determine its pace. We are the transformational figures our politics needs at this critical moment. LGBT leaders must come forward, run for school boards, city councils, state legislatures and other elected positions that have so much impact on our lives. We must lay the foundation for longterm LGBT political power in red states and blue states because our people are the best defense against legislative bigotry and intolerance, and the best proponents of universal equality. These are the leaders who will turn this breakdown into a breakthrough.
And there were breakthroughs last night – rays of light in an otherwise dark evening. Oregon Governor Kate Brown became the first openly LGBT governor elected in our nation’s history, a stunning accomplishment breaking 240 years of precedent. Carlos Guillermo Smith became the first openly LGBT Latino elected to the Florida state legislature, a powerful statement given Pulse nightclub is just miles from his Orlando home. Sam Park won and will join three other remarkable openly LGBT lawmakers in the Georgia legislature, a testament to our increasing representation in the South. And voters reelected all six openly LGBT members of Congress despite a tough night for House Democrats – affirmation that LGBT leadership is effective and respected.
The better angels were out in Oregon, parts of Georgia and Orlando last night. And the better angels will eventually prevail nationwide — just as they did back in 1865. We have been here before and we will bounce back again, and today’s pain will beget tomorrow’s possibilities.
We made enormous progress in the past eight years and we must continue to elect LGBT leaders to defend it. We cannot allow disappointment and disgust to breed apathy and inaction. We must rally and push forward our equality by running for office, supporting LGBT officials and demanding accountability from our leaders. Despair must lead us to collective action, as we are indeed stronger together. Onward.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, November 8, 2016, 11:52PM ET
CONTACT: Elliot Imse, Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, DC – In response to Oregon Governor Kate Brown becoming the first openly LGBT person elected governor in U.S. history, Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills released the following statement:
“Kate Brown’s win in Oregon is one for the history books – becoming the first openly LGBT person ever elected governor in the U.S. Her lopsided win is testament to her strength as a candidate, her winning message and her connection with Oregon voters. Governor Brown has been an outstanding leader on common sense gun reform, reproductive freedom, domestic violence prevention, and investments in education. While the LGBT community will forever recognize Governor Brown as a historic first, most Oregonians will remember her strong leadership and support for issues that matter most to their lives. They made an outstanding choice in electing Governor Brown.”
Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund works to change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBT Americans by increasing the number of openly LGBT elected officials at all levels of government.
Above: West Virginia State Senate candidate Stephen Skinner (center).
A homophobic and transphobic robocall was launched against openly LGBT West Virginia State Senate candidate Stephen Skinner – just four days before the election. The speaker claims to be a 12-year-old girl, and says the candidate “pushed the city council to let men in our showers” and that Stephen Skinner “only cares about gay activism.” The full ad – paid for by the anti-LGBT hate group Family Policy Council – can be heard here.
Our community must respond to this sort of attack, and quickly. Make a last minute contribution to Stephen Skinner’s campaign so he can use the next few days to counter the hate-filled message as people head to the polls.
Victory-endorsed candidate Tommy Greene has seen a surge in support in the past two months, and is now one point ahead of his opponent David Greenspan, according to internal polls. The poll shows the Ohio state legislative candidate is capturing 43 percent of the vote, compared to his opponent’s 42 percent, despite a barrage of television and mail attacks against Tommy in recent weeks.
The seven point gain since the August poll is a result of Tommy’s massive outreach efforts to voters across the District. His message is clearly resonating – including his pledge to support equal pay for women, oppose education cuts and protect the local environment. And the new poll comes just days after Tommy was upgraded to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s list of Essential Races – indicating the significance of his race to the Democratic Party’s efforts to win back key legislative seats.
Tommy needs to get his message out to as many voters as possible in the next three weeks. Contribute to Tommy’s campaign today, so we can secure another LGBT voice in the Ohio legislature come November.
Denise Juneau squared off against opponent Ryan Zinke in a debate full of hot topics – but the most memorable moment came as the crowd booed Zinke for saying being a lesbian is a choice.
Throughout the debate, Denise shined and Zinke sunk, especially when asked how the two would work to protect LGBT rights. Denise received applause after saying, “That’s an awesome answer for me. No. 1, get elected.” She then highlighted she would be the first Congresswoman from Montana since 1941, the first Native American woman ever in Congress, and the first LGBT person elected to Congress from Montana. Denise closed her statement saying “representation matters.”
Zinke’s response, on the other hand, received jeers from the crowd. While stating his support for freedom of religion, he said: “It’s not my right to dictate how you think or what you do. And so I do support you (Juneau)… if you want to be lesbian, if you want to be Muslim, it doesn’t matter. You have the right to be you.” His response, implying Denise chose to be a lesbian, drew boos and groans from the audience.
We could not agree with Denise more. Representation does matter. And we need more voices like Denise’s in Congress – in part to stop the kind of ignorance Zinke demonstrated last night.
After tonight's Vice Presidential Debate with Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills released the following statement:
“Mike Pence has made a career of singling out LGBT people for discrimination, and it is disappointing tonight’s debate did not address his long record of using public office to advance his backward views,” said Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills. “Pence opposes recognition of our relationships, opposes LGBT soldiers serving openly in the military, and opposes prohibiting restaurants and other businesses from refusing service to LGBT customers. It is important the Trump campaign’s extremist anti-LGBT positions be exposed in future debates – along with its attacks on women, immigrants, Latinos, Muslims, and veterans recovering from war. Their entire campaign has been built on fear and bigotry, and we believe voters will reject their attempts to turn back the clock on progress."
Today we announced the endorsement of 21 more LGBT candidates from across the nation. This election cycle, we have endorsed 166 candidates from all levels of government – including school boards, state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.
“Our latest slate of endorsed candidates are qualified and viable leaders who will champion LGBT equality, while also addressing the issues most important to their constituents,” said Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills. “LGBT elected officials move equality forward by humanizing our lives and influencing their colleagues, so it is critical we elect these leaders up and down the ballot in November.”
Rachael Booth, New Hampshire House of Representatives, District 15
Greg Ford, Wake County Commission, District 6 (NC)
Sue Fulton, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders (NJ)
Kathy Gillespie, Washington House of Representatives, District 18 (WA)
Grace Hanlon, New York State Supreme Court, 8th Judicial District
Joe Huftel, Wisconsin State Assembly, District 75
Thomas Lister-Looker, Palm Springs Unified School District (CA)
Jason Morgan, Washtenaw County Commission, District 8 (MI)
Bao Nguyen, US House of Representatives (CA-46)
Samuel Park, Georgia House of Representatives, District 101
Alex Randolph, San Francisco Community College Board Trustee (CA)
Richard Renner, Pioneer Township Supervisor (MI)
Marti Smith, Jefferson County Commissioner, District 1 (CO)
Paul Southwick, Oregon House of Representatives, District 37
Les Zendle, Director, Desert Healthcare District, Palm Springs (CA)
Billie Joe Wright, Anaheim Elementary School District Board of Trustees, Trustee Area 1 (CA)
Mike Bonin, Los Angeles City Council, District 11 (2017 election cycle)
Ed Butler, New Hampshire State House, District 7
Chris Clark, Mountain View City Council (CA)
Cathy Connolly, Wyoming State House, District 13
Gary Miller, Roseville City School Board (CA)
Since 1991, Victory Fund has helped thousands of openly LGBT candidates win local, state and federal elections.