October 11, 2010 at 3:59 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Victory Fund announces ‘Ten Races to Watch’

A gay Republican seeking office in the Nevada State Legislature and a gay politician vying to become mayor of a Kentucky city are among the candidates the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is highlighting as part of its recently announced “Ten Races to Watch.”

On Monday, the Victory Fund identified the names of ten endorsed candidates in races that the organization believes could have a significant impact on LGBT community.

The ten candidates represent a portion of the 164 candidates the organization has endorsed in all of 2010 and more than 100 candidates who are facing election in November, according to the Victory Fund.

In a statement, Chuck Wolfe, the Victory Fund’s president, predicted that 2010 will be “a banner year” for the organization and its mission to elect openly LGBT people to public office.

“We know out elected officials can be a leading political indicator of real change, so it’s exciting to see so many candidates stepping up to run for office this year,” Wolfe said.

The Victory Fund statement highlights each of the candidates running in the “Ten Races to Watch” in alphabetical order:

Marcus Brandon — North Carolina House of Representatives (60th District)

With the retirement of N.C. State Sen. Julia Boseman, Brandon would become North Carolina’s only openly LGBT state legislator, and one of just five out African-American state lawmakers in the U.S. Brandon ousted a four-term incumbent in the Democratic primary, and now faces a Republican opponent on November 2.

David Cicilline — U.S. House of Representatives (Rhode Island, 1st Congressional District)

Providence Mayor David Cicilline beat three primary opponents to stand in the general election this November. If he wins, Cicilline would become just the seventh openly gay or lesbian person to serve in the U.S. Congress.

Jim Gray — Mayor, Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington Vice Mayor Jim Gray is in a close race for the city’s top elected office. The construction company executive is passionate about running city government like he has run his family’s nationally known business, Gray Construction. Gray was elected Vice Mayor in 2006 by an overwhelming margin.

Dan Hill — Nevada House of Representatives (District 29)

Dan could become the new face of the Republican Party in Nevada. He’s a staunch fiscal conservative who  believes the party will thrive if it also stays out of citizens’ personal lives. As an openly gay man, Dan could help bridge the political divide on issues like LGBT equality.

Laurie Jinkins — Washington House of Representatives (District 27)

As a public health and education advocate, social justice leader, community volunteer, lawyer, and mom, Laurie Jinkins is a problem solver with a track record of bringing diverse people and interests together to help working families build community, and to make sure the marginalized have a voice. In Olympia, Laurie will be a strong voice for positive change, and the state legislature’s first openly lesbian member.

Aaron Kampfe — Montana State Senate (District 30)

This two-term city council member from Red Lodge, Montana is now running for the State Senate, where he would join two other out state legislators whose authentic voices represent the LGBT community in state government. Red Lodge is the largest city in this Senate district, and Aaron is well-known to area voters.

Victoria Kolakowski — Superior Court Judge, Alameda County, Calif.

Victoria Kolakowski, a lawyer and administrative law judge with a strong background as an LGBT civil rights advocate, is running to become a judge on Superior Court of Alameda County, California. If she wins, Victoria will become America’s first openly transgender judge.

Kevin Lembo — Connecticut State Comptroller

Kevin Lembo could become one of just a handful of openly LGBT people ever to be elected statewide, and that would make him one of the highest-ranking openly gay government officials in America.

Evan Low — Mayor, Campbell, Calif.

At 26, Evan Low is currently the youngest openly gay mayor in America. He was elected to the post by his colleagues on the city council in December, a testament to his remarkable leadership skills and bright future. He’s facing nine candidates in an election to fill just two positions on the city council.

Steve Pougnet — U.S. House of Representatives (California, 45th Congressional District)

Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet could become the first and only openly gay parent if he’s able to beat the GOP incumbent, Rep. Mary Bono Mack. Pougnet is Bono Mack’s strongest challenger in years, and among the Democratic Party’s greatest chances to pick up a seat now held by Republicans in the House of Representatives.

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

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