The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a national group that helps elect LGBT candidates to public office, has endorsed gay D.C. City Council candidate Clark Ray.
Ray, former director of the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation, is challenging incumbent Phil Mendelson in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary. Many political observers believe Ray has an uphill fight against Mendelson, a longtime supporter of LGBT rights who has held the seat for nearly 12 years.
The Victory Fund’s decision to endorse Ray, announced Tuesday, is considered significant because it limits its endorsements to “viable” candidates capable of running a professional campaign, who are raising sufficient money to be competitive and have a reasonable chance of winning.
“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund,” Ray said in a statement. “The Victory Fund’s candidate evaluation process was rigorous, and we’re proud to have made the grade.”
Among other things, the Victory Fund raises money for its endorsed candidates through a national network of donors who are committed to helping elect qualified LGBT candidates.
Victory Fund spokesperson Dennis Dison said the group also has endorsed gay D.C. City Council incumbents Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and David Catania (I-At Large), who are running for re-election.
Ray’s campaign received a setback earlier this month when the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, endorsed Mendelson. Club members backing Mendelson said Ray is qualified to hold public office, but they believe it would be wrong to turn against an incumbent who has championed LGBT causes.
Ray said the Victory Fund endorsement comes as his campaign gears up for the remaining four weeks leading up to the primary.
“The Victory Fund endorsement comes just as we’re feeling great momentum — 10 new field workers hired, thousands of yard signs distributed, community leader endorsements from Anacostia to Georgetown, and increasing attention from observers citywide,” he said.