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2022 Midterm Elections

Transgender candidates score historic wins, suffer consequential loses in midterms

Democrat Zooey Zephyr will be Montana’s first trans state lawmaker

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Zooey Zephyr was elected Montana’s first out transgender state lawmaker (Photo courtesy of August Payton Photography)

The midterm election takeaway for transgender and nonbinary Americans and their families is a mixed bag of optimism and dread; all dependent on locale, leadership and the balance of power which is at this moment still undetermined. 

Los Angeles Blade contributor, author and thought leader Brynn Tannehill, who describes her perspective as “somewhat contrarian,tweeted that she sees the next two years leading up to the 2024 presidential election as “highly unpredictable, chaotic, illogical and radical,” and advises her followers to “buckle up.”

While Republicans and the mainstream media have egg on their face for predicting a “red wave” on Tuesday, the wave they apparently didn’t see coming was a rainbow of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and nonbinary winners. 

As the Los Angeles Blade reported, Democrat Tina Kotek narrowly defeated her Republican opponent in Oregon to become one of the nation’s first out lesbian governors. She follows Democrat Maura Healey of Massachusetts, who received nearly twice as many votes as her GOP competitor. 

Healey, Kotek and a dozen others were among the 678 LGBTQ candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot — an increase of 18 percent over the 2020 general election, when 574 candidates ran for office, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a political action committee that supports LGBTQ candidates. At least 340 out LGBTQ candidates won their elections this time around, surpassing the previous record of 336 candidates set in 2020.

Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride (D), the first trans woman elected state senator in the U.S., following Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas)’s 2017 election as the first out trans state legislator in the country, was among those re-elected, as the Washington Blade reported. Roem was re-elected in 2021.

New Hampshire voters elected James Roesener on Tuesday, making him the first trans man ever elected to a state legislature in the U.S. That’s according to the Victory Fund. 

Roesener, a Democrat, defeated Republican Dennis Soucy by a 55-45 percent margin, according to the New York Times, citing data from the Associated Press. 

Roesener’s website shows the 25-year-old bisexual lives in Concord with his wife and cat.

“I was born an advocate for the underdog,” he says on his site, “and have never been afraid to stand up for what I truly believe in.”

His priority issues are healthcare, education, reproductive justice, housing, workers’ rights, women’s rights, gay rights, disabled rights, trans rights, the legalization and regulation of recreational cannabis and clean energy, including solar power and other alternatives to fossil fuels. 

Democrat Zooey Zephyr is Montana’s first out trans state lawmaker, one of two LGBTQ candidates supported by the Victory Fund that voters elected in a landslide on Tuesday. 

“The best way for me to fight for social and economic justice is to get into the room where the laws are being written,” Zephyr wrote on her website.

“I will fight for human rights — from voting rights to trans rights to working towards dismantling the cruelties of the prison-industrial complex. I will also work to address what I see as four of the big, interconnected areas where Montana is failing to adequately help its residents: housing inequality, health care, infrastructure and climate change.”

After a long count, SJ Howell was also elected after easily defeating their Republican opponent. Howell will be Montana’s first out nonbinary state representative. 

“Only six trans men serve in any office in the United States of America,” Victory Fund Vice President of Political Programs Sean Meloy told NPR. “Breaking that barrier, I think, is going to be important to showcase to trans men and trans and nonbinary people that they need to keep stepping forward to run, and they can win.”

Minnesota voters elected their first trans state lawmaker: Democrat Leigh Finke, who won in a huge landslide. She defeated Republican Trace Johnson by an 81-18 percent margin. The first-time candidate is a native of the Twin Cities and a filmmaker for the American Civil Liberties Union. She told reporters fighting for her trans neighbors will be a priority.

“In the last two years, we’ve been seeing just a marked increase in the coordinated attacks against trans people and trans communities in the United States and in Minnesota,” she told WCCO-TV. “I just felt like it was absolutely essential to have someone from our community in those rooms.”

Finke celebrated her victory on the dance floor and shared her moves with her followers on Twitter:

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2022 Midterm Elections

Republicans gain control of the U.S. House

Narrow GOP majority could bode well for blocking anti-LGBTQ bills.

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U.S. Capitol
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Certainty over Republicans’ control of the U.S. House of Representatives crystalized on Tuesday, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fended off a bid for his position by fellow GOP Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.).

As the final votes from last week’s midterm elections continue to trickle in, by Wednesday evening it became clear that when the 118th Congress is seated in January, the legislature will be divided between the House and the U.S. Senate, where Democrats will either retain their 50-vote majority or win an extra seat, pending the results of Georgia’s runoff election in December.

It is the House, too, that will be divided, as the majority’s shift from blue to red was narrowly won, with only seven races whose results have not yet been tallied. Republicans’ control of the chamber comes with 218 seats, a feat they accomplished today. By 7:40 p.m. ET, Democrats had won 210 seats.

Leadership in both chambers has also been decided. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is poised to take over as House Speaker in January when the new Congress meets. McConnell, meanwhile, prevailed over a challenge for his Senate leadership by Scott, his Republican colleague.

“With a small Republican majority, we think there’s a greater chance of blocking anti-gay and anti-trans bills, which may now not even be brought up for a vote,” Geoff Wetrosky, campaign director for the Human Rights Campaign, told the Washington Blade by phone on Tuesday.

“Not only because of the composition of Congress, but also because last week’s election made clear that voters do not support this kind of extremism,” Wetrosky said.

Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, told the Blade by phone on Tuesday that “the first six months will be spent in internal warfare, but it’s clear that there won’t be anything positive coming out of the House for our community.”

There “very well may be negative bills,” Parker added, noting that with a slim majority in the lower chamber, there is unlikely to be much legislation, period.

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2022 Midterm Elections

Democrats retain control of the U.S. Senate

Catherine Cortez Masto won reelection in Nev.

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U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Control of the U.S. Senate will remain in the hands of Democrats after U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) defeated Republican Adam Laxalt, the state’s former attorney general, in a hotly contested race.

The 58-year-old Cortez Masto has been serving as the senior U.S. senator from Nevada since 2017. Previously she was the state’s 32nd attorney general from 2007-2015.

Her reelection means that President Joe Biden maintains his ability to confirm judicial nominees and Cabinet secretaries. All eyes are now on the U.S. House of Representatives where the balance of power is at stake.

David Wasserman, a House campaign analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, told the Los Angeles Times Saturday that “it will absolutely come down to California,” which the Golden State’s 10 Congressional races are deemed most at risk of flipping and still too close to call.

Cortez Masto, the first Latina elected to the Senate, endured a tough reelection campaign made more protracted after the mail-in ballot counting with the results resting largely with the state’s most populous county, Clark County, home to Las Vegas, which posted updates once a day since Tuesday. 

NBC News reported that in the campaign’s closing days, Laxalt, a MAGA Trump loyalist who drew the former president as well as Donald Trump, Jr., to the state to stump for him, hammered a strict partisan message, vowing not to work with the left and promising to hold Senate hearings examining Biden’s top medical adviser Anthony Fauci and Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

Laxalt had also questioned the results of the 2020 election, even saying the results were “rigged.”

“There should be consequences for people who undermine our democracy, who peddle the ‘big lie’ and conspiracy theories,” Cortez Masto said at an event in Reno, the state’s second largest city, in October.

Laxalt handily won the state’s 15 rural counties, in some counties winning 80 percent of the vote, while Cortez Masto steadily led the reliably blue Clark County.

Speaking in the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh, where he is attending the East Asia Summit, Joe Biden finished his remarks and then took a couple questions from reporters. When asked about the news of the Democrats retaining the Senate after Cortez Masto’s reelection victory the president said: “I feel good and I’m looking forward to the next couple years.”

In the press pool traveling with Biden, The Washington Post’s White House reporter Yasmeen Abutaleb, reported that the president made congratulatory calls to Cortez Masto at 10:08 a.m. local time and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at 10:28 a.m. local time, (Cambodia.)

The president added that as he congratulated Schumer he noted their [Democrats] focus now is on Georgia.

“I’m not surprised by this … I think it’s a reflection of the quality of our candidates,” Biden said.

“It’s always better at 51,” he added and mentioned that with 51, Democrats don’t need to have an even makeup of committees. “It’s just simply better.”

“Republicans are going to have to decide who they are,”  the president reflected.

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2022 Midterm Elections

Trone wins reelection in Md. 6th Congressional District

Incumbent Democrat beat state Rep. Neil Parrott (R-Frederick County)

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Maryland Congressman David Trone (Photo public domain)

Maryland Congressman David Trone has defeated his Republican challenger in the state’s 6th Congressional District.

Trone defeated state Del. Neil Parrott (R-Frederick County) by a 50.38-49.5 percent margin.

The Frederick County Republican had been ahead of the incumbent Democratic, in part, because the boundaries of the district, which includes all of western Maryland, had been redrawn during the last redistricting. Mail-in ballots had yet to be counted when Parrott was ahead of Trone immediately after Election Day. 

“I want to thank Del. Parrott for his phone call this afternoon conceding the race,” said Trone in a tweet. “My promise to him, and to all of the people of the 6th District, is this: I’ll continue to work across the aisle to deliver results and get things done. Thank you, Maryland! Let’s get back to work.”

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