March 21, 2018 at 11:43 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Victory Fund endorses Sheriff Valdez in Texas gubernatorial race

Lupe Valdez, gay news, Washington Blade

Sheriff Lupe Valdez will proceed to a run-off in the Texas gubernatorial election. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Out lesbian and former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez got a boost Wednesday in her bid to become the next governor of Texas upon the receipt of an endorsement from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

The Victory Fund, which supports LGBT candidates, announced its support for Valdez in a statement obtained Wednesday morning by the Washington Blade that declares endorsements in a total of 14 races.

Annise Parker, CEO of the Victory Fund, said the candidates who obtained endorsements represent just a few of the multitude of LGBT candidates running in 2018 amid hopes a Democratic wave will sweep them into office. The Victory Fund has endorsed 74 candidates in the 2018 election cycle.

“We have an unprecedented number of LGBTQ people running for office this cycle – some running races to become historic firsts and others running to take out anti-LGBTQ incumbents and be champions for all their constituents,” Parker said. “These 14 candidates are values-driven leaders who are committed to equality, but are equally determined to fight for the bread and butter issues important to their communities. We have the opportunity to dramatically increase LGBTQ representation in local governments, state legislatures and the governors’ mansions, so Victory Fund is all-in to ensure our endorsed candidates win on Election Day.”

Valdez advanced in the race to become governor of Texas in the Democratic primary earlier this month. Her strong showing allowed her to proceed to a run-off on May 22 against Andrew White in a contest that will decide the Democratic nomination.

Should Valdez succeed in the run-off, she’ll proceed to the general election against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has a notoriously anti-LGBT record.

Abbott, an opponent of same-sex marriage who’s said “marriage was defined by God,” pressured the Texas Supreme Court to take up a case against same-sex spousal benefits for Houston city employees despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. The justices handed down a ruling questioning whether the decision applies to those benefits despite explicit wording in the Obergefell decision.

More recently, Abbott signed into law a “religious freedom” bill allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny placement into LGBT homes and called for a special session of the Texas legislature for the sole purpose of passing an anti-transgender bathroom bill. The attempt to pass anti-trans legislation in Texas was ultimately thwarted.

In addition to endorsing Valdez, the Victory Fund designated her candidacy with “Game Changer” status, which the organization provides in high-profile races that could have a significant impact on LGBT rights. In this case, the status was awarded because Valdez as an out lesbian could unseat an anti-LGBT state official.

The chances of Valdez winning the general election in Texas are challenging in a “red” state, but if she succeeds, she could have the distinction of being the first openly gay person elected governor in the United States.

However, she could have competition for that distinction from Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who’s seeking the Democratic nomination to run for governor in Colorado, and Maryland State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who’s seeking the Democratic nomination to run for governor in his state. (“Sex in the City” star Cynthia Nixon is running to unseat Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York, but she identifies as bisexual.)

Aside from Valdez, the Victory Fund endorsed other high-profile LGBT candidates on Wednesday:

* Dana Beyer, a transgender activist in Chevy Chase, Md., who’s running in Maryland to represent Senate District 18 and could be become the first transgender person elected to a state Senate anywhere in the United States;

* David Ermold, who’s running to unseat Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in Kentucky after she rose to national prominence for denying a marriage license to him and other gay couples despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling for marriage equality nationwide;

* Maura Healey, attorney general of Massachusetts and the first openly gay state attorney general in the United States;

* and State Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia), an incumbent lawmaker and the first openly gay person to win election to the state legislature in Pennsylvania.

Here’s a list of the other candidates the Victory Fund endorsed Wednesday:

    Non-incumbent candidates

Cecil Brockman, North Carolina House of Representatives, District 60
Malcolm Kenyatta, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 181
Ricardo Lara, California Insurance Commissioner
Felicia Stewart, Alabama House of Representatives, District 46
Alex Valdez, Colorado House of Representatives, District 5
Jennifer Webb, Florida House of Representatives, District 69
Ricardo White, Michigan House of Representatives, District 6

    Incumbents

Steve Glassman (retroactive endorsement), Fort Lauderdale City Commission,
Daniel Hernandez, Arizona House of Representatives, District 2

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

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