August 5, 2020 at 3:13 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Former D.C. politico wins primary in bid to be Michigan’s first out gay congressman
Michigan State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) (Photo via Twitter)

A former D.C. politico has crossed a major hurdle in his effort to become Michigan’s first openly gay member of Congress after cinching the Democratic nomination in the primary for the state’s 6th congressional district.

State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo), who served as president for the now closed National Stonewall Democrats, won the contested primary by claiming 53.3 percent of the vote in comparison to teacher Jen Richardson, who had 47.7 percent.

The Associated Press declared Hoadley the winner the day after the primary on Wednesday. According to, election results slowed in Kalamazoo with increased absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in delays in declaring the winners.

Hoadley will advance to the general election, where he’ll face Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who has a reputation as a moderate in the solidly Republican district.

Amritha Venkataraman, Michigan state director for the Human Rights Campaign, commended Hoadley in a statement and said Upton “should be running scared.”

“After decades of failed anti-equality leadership from Upton, Michigan’s 6th is ready for fresh, bold new leadership,” Venkataraman said. “While Upton claims to oppose discrimination against the LGBTQ community, he has regularly voted against legislation to protect LGBTQ people including essential non-discrimination measures like the Equality Act that would make real change.”

Recognizing the distinction Hoadley could have as Michigan’s first openly gay member of Congress, Venkataraman added the candidate would “give a voice to the over 300,000 LGBTQ people across the state of Michigan.”

“Hoadley is the only candidate who will fight for working families over special interests, pass the Equality Act and ensure people with pre-existing conditions have access to health care,” Venkataraman said. “Over the next 90 days, HRC will continue to digitally barnstorm the state and help make sure Michigan sends Jon Hoadley to Congress.”

LGBTQ-related election news also came out last night in Kansas, where Stephanie Byers won her primary for a state House seat and is headed toward becoming the first openly transgender person ever elected to public office in Kansas. Only four out trans people have been elected and seated to serve in state legislatures who still hold their seats.

Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement Byers “shattered a long-standing political barrier in Kansas.”

“At a time when trans people are targeted with hateful policies and legislation by the Trump administration and in so many state legislatures, Stephanie’s race is a powerful reminder of where our country is headed,” Parker said. “Stephanie’s victory, like every victory for a trans candidate, will inspire more trans leaders to run for office in their communities and that will be transformative.”

Also in Kansas, Republicans granted the nomination to U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall to run for U.S. Senate, as opposed to the more right-wing, Peter Thiel-backed Kris Kobach. All the Republicans in the primary, however, have anti-LGBTQ records. Marshall berated another primary candidate, Bob Hamilton, a business owner for being LGBTQ-friendly, for his company’s membership in the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

Lindsey Clark, associate regional campaign director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement Marshall “has attacked, demeaned, and dehumanized transgender people” and called on Kansas residents to reject him on Election Day.

“He and his fellow Republican candidates waged one of the most anti-LGBTQ primaries this cycle, engaging in a race to the bottom by releasing ad after ad attacking transgender kids and LGBTQ people,” Clark said. “Marshall’s brand of anti-LGBTQ extremism may have won a primary, but it won’t win the battle ahead.”

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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