February 22, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
Solmonese joins Obama campaign as national co-chair

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Obama campaign has tapped Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese for a position as a national co-chair to advocate for the president based on his work for the LGBT community and the country as a whole.

On Wednesday, the Obama campaign issued a statement saying Solmonese had been selected for the role as part of a group of 35 individuals who had been chosen as national co-chairs.

In a statement, Solmonese praised Obama’s work on LGBT issues over the course of the more than three years the president has been in office, saying the president’s leadership “has brought about great change for LGBT Americans.”

“From ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ to prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in the federal government, to signing the hate crime prevention act into law, the Obama administration has improved the lives of LGBT Americans more than ever before,” Solmonese said. “President Obama has made it clear that LGBT Americans deserve a fair shot and has taken steps across his administration to make the lives of those most in need in our community better.”

Others on the list include Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and actress Eva Longoria, who stars on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.”

In a statement, Jim Messina, Obama for America’s campaign manager, said the national co-chairs “will be tremendous assets on the ground as we build the biggest grassroots campaign in history.”

“They each share the president’s vision for a future where every American can have a fair shot at success, where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded,” Messina said.

According to the Obama campaign statement, the national co-chairs are charged with serving as ambassadors for the president, advising the campaign on key issues and helping to engage and mobilize voters. The positions are unpaid.

Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, said Solmonese’s role with the Obama campaign won’t be LGBT-specific and he’ll advocate for the president based on the entirety of his work.

“I think that Joe, obviously, will be most impactful in terms of speaking on behalf on the issues important to our community, but Joe will be able to speak to the entirety of the president’s record,” Sainz said.

Solmonese is slated to leave his post as HRC president when his contract expires on March 31, 2012. Sainz said Solmonese will begin his role with the Obama campaign immediately and continue his role for the president after he’s left the organization.

The complete list of the 35 national co-chairs follows:

·         Lynnette Acosta – OFA volunteer leader from Florida

·         Marc Benioff – CEO of Salesforce.com

·         Senator Michael Bennet – U.S. Senator from Colorado

·         Mayor Julian Castro – Mayor of San Antonio

·         Governor Lincoln Chafee – Governor of Rhode Island

·         Ann Cherry – Retired teacher and OFA volunteer leader from North Carolina

·         Representative Judy Chu – Representing the 32nd District of California

·         Representative Emanuel Cleaver – Representing the 5th District of Missouri

·         Bill Daley – Former White House Chief of Staff to President Obama, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce

·         Maria Elena Durazo – Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO

·         Senator Dick Durbin – U.S. Senator from Illinois

·         Mayor  Rahm Emanuel – Mayor of Chicago

·         Senator Russ Feingold – Former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin

·         Representative Charles A. Gonzalez – Representing the 20th District of Texas

·         Loretta Harper – High School Counselor and OFA volunteer leader from Nevada

·         Attorney General Kamala Harris – Attorney General of California

·         Sai Iyer – Student at Virginia Commonwealth University and OFA volunteer leader from Virginia

·         Caroline Kennedy – Author/President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

·         Eva Longoria – Actress and Philanthropist

·         Felesia Martin – OFA volunteer leader from Wisconsin

·         Bishop Vashti McKenzie – African Methodist Episcopal Bishop

·         Attorney General Tom Miller – Attorney General of Iowa

·         Kalpen Modi – Actor/Former White House Associate Director for the Office of Public Engagement

·         Admiral John Nathman – Retired U.S. Navy Admiral

·         Governor Deval Patrick – Governor of Massachusetts

·         Secretary Federico Pena - Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Secretary of Energy

·         Elaine Price – Retired Ohio resident and OFA volunteer leader from Ohio

·         Penny Pritzker – Founder and CEO of PSP Capital Partners

·         John Register – U.S. Army Veteran and Paralympian

·         Representative Jan Schakowsky – Representing the 9th District of Illinois

·         Senator Jeanne Shaheen – U.S. Senator from New Hampshire

·         Joe Solmonese – President of the Human Rights Campaign

·         Alan Solow – Partner at DLA Piper LLP and past Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

·         Governor Ted Strickland – Former Governor of Ohio

·         Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – Mayor of Los Angeles

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

6 Comments
  • Solmonese is the perfect fit for Obama and the Democratic Party. Just like Solmonese, the Democrats also make promises to persecuted minority groups which they clearly have no intention of actually keeping.

  • I agree this is a great appointment but have to disagree with Rebecca Juro on why.

    Joe has worked hard whether we always agree with HRC or not he will be a great asset to the Obama campaign. I would assume that the LGBT community, even those who are a little dissappointed with Obama, won’t be committing hari-kari and will be voting for Obama in record numbers. The alternatives have already said they will work and fight for policies that will move us backwards and forever keep us second class citizens and that is unacceptable. We have made great strides under the Obama administration and I truly believe we will make more in his second term. But the reality is that like it or not there is no alternative.

    I hope that as part of his new role Solmonese will continue to press Obama for more as he also explains to our community why we need to support the President and yes, say thank you for what he has already done.

    • Sorry Peter, no sale. Let’s not forget that far more lasting damage was done to the cause of American LGBT civil rights (DADT, DOMA) under Clinton then under Bush. You can try to frame it any way you like, but history is history and numbers are numbers. As much as I dislike the GOP and everything they stand for, at least they stand for something and they don’t always cave on their base the moment things get a little rough. It’s a pity we can’t say the same about Democrats, or about Solmonese and HRC.

  • Well, I always knew why Solomonese and the HRC has kissed the Commander and Bigots arse even when he was filing suits to defend DOMA, DADT. Now we get to see the fruits of Solomenese’s labour and it was all for himself. If I was one the fence about voting for Obama before I’m not now and I won’t vote for anyone out of fear.

  • Joe has been overselling what he can deliver for years. His being named a co-chair of the Obama campaign is going to be no different. New neighborhood, same ineffectual leadership. Can you name a single effective strategy Solmonese has implemented other than the one getting him appointed to this role and most likely to a follow-on job with the Obama administration in 2013?

  • Good. Maybe HRC can hire someone interested in advancing gay rights more than his own career or advocating for partisan politics.

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