April 9, 2014 at 11:30 am EDT | by Peter Rosenstein
Recommitting to the Victory Fund mission
Chuck Wolfe, Victory Fund Champagne Brunch, gay news, Washington Blade

Victory Fund President Chuck Wolfe told Sunday’s crowd about his recent heart attack and thanked supporters for their work during his absence. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Last Sunday was the annual Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch and by all accounts it was a success. There were fewer people than last year but that could be attributed to the steep price increase for tickets.

Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, began the program and spoke of his recent heart attack and thanked the staff and board for all their hard work during his illness. It was good to see him back. He is often seen as the heart and soul of the Victory Fund and deserves much of the credit for its success in recent years. He introduced Steve Elmendorf, board chair, along with Kim Hoover, board treasurer and event co-chair.

The brunch is often a moving event in which LGBT leaders from across the nation gather to celebrate how far we have come and remind each other how far we still have to go for full equality. Each year there is a featured speaker and this year it was Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) who is running for governor and recently came out as gay. If elected, he would be the first openly gay person to be elected as a governor. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced him and remarked that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be the first of anything in the LGBT community because of the successes we have had in recent years.

We had a New Jersey governor who came out in office and a gay governor who never came out in another state, but this would still be a first. Polis talked about how hard it must have been for Barney Frank when he was the only out person in Congress while today when Michaud came out there were others there to throw him a coming out party. They served pink cupcakes and the musical selections included “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

When Michaud spoke he said, “never before, and most likely never again will I eat pink cupcakes.” He also commented on the beautiful people in the room and reminded everyone that he is still single and was going to be in Washington all weekend. The line formed to the right.

Among the other candidates who spoke to the welcoming crowd were Maura Healey, who’s running for attorney general in Massachusetts, and Mary Gonzalez, a candidate for the House of Representatives in Texas. David Catania, D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate, also spoke and talked about his record in D.C. and how the Victory Fund has been instrumental in his past races. He commented on how far behind he is in the polls at this point but said he could make that up. The applause for him was definitely on the lighter side as many in the room are from D.C. and supporting the Democratic nominee.

It is my understanding that the Victory Fund will be going through a strategic planning process in the coming months. All good organizations do this and it is time for the Victory Fund to reaffirm its mission and to look at what they are doing well and what they need to work on. There were people I spoke to who didn’t come to this year’s brunch for reasons other than the cost. Some stayed home because of the Victory Fund’s endorsement of Republican Richard Tisei in his bid for Congress from Massachusetts. Others didn’t come because of the early endorsement of Catania, which occurred before he even announced. These and other issues surely will be part of the discussion during the strategic planning process.

The Victory Fund should find a way to let their huge mailing list and those visiting their website know about LGBT candidates they aren’t endorsing. There are many such candidates around the nation running for posts from county commission to school board to town council. They are running for the first time and may not meet the criteria for an endorsement. But these candidates deserve to have people know they are stepping up to the plate. Others, like longtime activist Dana Beyer, who is running for State Senate in Maryland against an LGBT incumbent endorsed by Victory Fund, at least deserves recognition on the website to let people know she is running even if she isn’t endorsed.

These candidates are part of the future and they make up, as they say in baseball, our bench.

  • Thanks for another absolutely, positively unbiased report, Peter. I’m sure those DC Dem party-line bosses are well pleased, too.

  • @Brian- I write opinion pieces so never claimed they weren’t what I think. As to who you call the Democratic Party bosses, (It would be good if you defined that term) if they like some of what I write I am fine with that. While I am an unapologetic Democrat, if you have followed my writing which I guess you do since you talk about this being another column you have read, you will know they couldn’t always be happy with my columns.

  • Peter, perhaps the issue here is that your liberal mixing of bias and opinion. It is clear that you have a bias for Democratic candidates regardless of their qualifications and you clearly have a negative opinion about David Catania.

    There is nothing Mr. Catania could do or say that would cause you to vote for him because of your bias. However, what is off-putting is that you let no opportunity pass where you don’t take a shot or attempt to denigrate him rather than make an argument for how your preferred party nominee is superior. You throw around easily substantiated claims like “some people stayed away because of the Cantania endorsement” when in fact it might have been 2 or 50 for all we know. You describe applause as being on the lighter side like that has anything at all to do with Victory Fund strategy.

    Every cheap shot you take on Catania, simply lessons the impact of your “opinion.” Perhaps it’s time for the Blade to get someone whose views may actually sway our thinking.

  • @i’m Just saying- many would disregard what you say as you aren’t willing to even share who you are. So the general view would be you are biased for David as you attack me for my opinion and presumed bias against him. In this case it isn’t bias but opinion based on having followed David’s career since he has been on the Council. I have supported him and contributed to his council campaigns at times. It is my considered opinion he would not make a good Mayor. There will be a long seven month campaign. Should you be interested I will be writing a lot about both David and Muriel over that time. Since clearly you read my columns I am sure you may find somethings you will agree with and many you don’t. Should you decide to come out from behind your anonymous postings I would be happy to have a discussion with you at any time. It will be a long seven months.

  • Peter, you are a paid contributor to the Blade. I am but a mere mortal.

  • “@i’m Just saying- many would disregard what you say as you aren’t willing to even share who you are.

    Should you decide to come out from behind your anonymous postings I would be happy to have a discussion with you at any time.” — P.R.
    Well, nothing arrogant or elitist about that, huh?
    Whether paid or unpaid– any regular Blade contributor here ought show the same respect to the readers of the the Blade as its publishers do.
    Private, everyday Blade readers’ comments or questions here often get too close to truth– or too inconvenient for some among DC’s self-appointed LGBT ‘activist elites’. When that happens, a few among said activists are quick to personally attack said Blade readers for their comments– even when made using a consistent online name moniker.
    These “ID-please cops” use ad hominem attacks on readers, for their comments, which masquerade as arguments. But the intent of such attacks seems to be to personally demonize and denigrate the worth of readers’ opposing commentary– and to thereby silence and EXLUDE any such future differing opinions.
    It should go without saying, the policy and practice of permitting Blade readers to comment anonymously is encouraged by the Blade’s publishers– as it invites the *widest possible, interactive* PARTICIPATION by Blade readers.
    That policy demonstrates a fundamental respect for Blade readers which its contributors ought to note well.
    Moreover, there is nothing unusual about that practice by news media owners– both print and broadcast. That is a policy followed by the Washington Post, Washington City Paper and many other reputable news publishers all over the country. Indeed, anonymous/pseudonym commentary is a practice and tradition among publishers that predates the founding of our nation.
    In Washington, in particular, where many news media readers (and/or their family members or loved ones) work for the federal government or in otherwise sensitive positions, there are very good reasons why a number of Blade readers would not and could not share their comments without some degree of anonymity. In a reasonably open forum such as this, such circumstances should not exclude the participation and worth of any Blade readers’ comments, made in a respectful, civil manner.
    Peter, please be reminded, you wrote a political OPINION piece here. Opinion pieces obviously invite robust reader commentary. Respect that tradition.
    Taking cheap shots at a political public figure like David Catania is one thing– even if he is LGBT. David has proven in 17 YEARS of public service to the entire city (including his exceptional service in the cause of LGBT civil rights) that he can easily ignore cheap shots. But taking cheap shots at private citizens who simply want to comment on a Blade article is quite something else.
    It is wholly inappropriate to personally denigrate any private citizen simply because they civilly and respectfully disagree with any Blade writer– and wish to do so with a reasonable level of privacy.
    Peter, as a fellow Democrat, I’m really rather shocked at your cavalier disregard for our country’s traditions of fair play, free speech and civil liberties. Those cherished traditions and practices have long been honored and reasonably implemented in private sectors of our nation, as well– especially among news media publishers like the Blade.
    You’re obviously a Bowser guy.
    Is yours the kind of exclusionary, demonizing tactics those with dissenting opinion could expect from a Bowser Administration? Does the Bowser campaign have an “enemies list” needing silencing by LGBT Dem party ‘activists’? Why does the Bowser campaign need a LGBT hatchet guy anyway?
    There are a huge set of important issues facing the next mayor of DC. Why doesn’t Muriel Bowser simply stand up NOW and begin discussions/ debates with David Catania? That would be a win-win for candidates and DC voters alike.
    PS — BTW, Blade readers comments aren’t really “hidden” or completely “anonymous” anyway, as the Blade retains full legal and moderator control of its forum. Plus the Blade insists upon email addresses of its readers who comment– again, as do most other reputable news publishers for their reader comments sections.

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