It was an incredible achievement. In Nov. 2017, LGBTQ candidates across the country sailed to victory in one election after another. Queer political power is rising dramatically in the country, thanks in large part to an organization called the Victory Fund. And if you thought the 2017 wins were amazing, wait until you hear about the org’s big plans for 2018.
The Victory Fund was founded in 1991, inspired by women who organized to get more female candidates elected. At the time, there were only a few dozen queer officials serving in the entire country. They enjoyed an early victory that year, when they were able to help Seattle’s Sherry Harris become the country’s first openly lesbian African-American city council member.
Since then, the Victory Fund has mobilized thousands of donors and volunteers to put queer people in positions of power all across America. And 2017 was a milestone year: 38 of the 61 candidates the group endorsed won their elections. That number could still climb, with a few elections still being decided.
Now the Victory Fund has turned its attention to 2018 and those crucial midterm elections. They’ve begun endorsing a slate of candidates that will grow over the coming months.
Among those candidates is Kyrsten Sinema, who’s running for U.S. Senate in Arizona. She’s running against Kelli Ward, an ally of Donald Trump and Steve Bannon who sought to invalidate marriage equality. If she wins, it would double LGBTQ representation in the Senate.
The Victory Fund has also just issued endorsements for various gubernatorial races. In Oregon, Kate Brown will be running for re-election. She’s the first openly queer elected governor in American history. Jared Polis is running for governor in Colorado, and Rich Madaleno is running in Maryland.
The Fund’s victories in 2018 would triple the number of openly queer governors in the country. The organization is providing each candidate with campaign, fundraising and communications support.
The largest slate of endorsements is in the race for the House of Representatives, where the Victory Fund has so far endorsed nine candidates. Most would be new to Congress, including Lauren Baer in Florida, Angie Craig in Minnesota, Pat Davis in New Mexico, Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas and David Richardson in Florida.
Endorsed incumbents are Rep. David Cicilline in Rhode Island, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in New York, Rep. Mark Pocan in Wisconsin and Mark Takano in California.
Now is a particularly crucial time to ensure that LGBTQ politicians and allies are serving in positions of power. Under the Trump administration, federal agencies have been cutting programs that serve queer populations, and pushing hard for exemptions to nondiscrimination rules. Donald Trump’s appointees are also attempting to block trans people from serving in the military.
On all of these issues — and more — queer governors and members of Congress have the power to push back against harmful rule-changes and legislation.
Just as in 2017, it won’t be an easy election season. “Our slate of LGBTQ Congressional candidates may determine whether the 116th Congress has a pro-equality majority, or whether it continues to be an adversary for our community,” says Victory Fund CEO and President Aisha C. Moodie-Mills. She cites the year’s unprecedented number of LGBTQ candidates running for the U.S. House this year, adding that it’s “an opportunity to triple our representation in Congress and ensure our voices are included in the legislative process.”
Featured image of Sen. Tammy Baldwin with Victory Fund staffers courtesy the Victory Fund