Houston Magazine OutSmart reports that at least 35 LGBTQ Texans are running for office in the 2018 primary and general elections–including governor and lieutenant governor contests. Five candidates identify as transgender. More than one-third are from Harris County. The publication added five to the list by Wednesday afternoon.
The publication began the article by stating:
With equality under attack by the Trump administration and the Texas Legislature, LGBTQ candidates across the state are lining up to fight back.
There are LGBTQ candidates in Texas Senate (3) and House (10) races, and eight are running for Congress. One of the named candidates is running to be a Texas Supreme Court justice, and 14 for other judicial races. The LGBTQ magazine based in Houston said they conducted “an extensive review” to arrive at the number of LGBTQ candidates. They called it an “unprecedented field”– twice as many as in any election cycle in the Lone Star State’s history, they say.
The CEO of Equality Texas, Chuck Smith, was reported to tell OutSmart, “I think for many, the motivation to run is in sync with the adage, ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’”
Twenty of the candidates are female and, 20 are male, and six of these candidates are running for reelection. Most of the candidates are Democrats, but one is running for lieutenant governor as a Libertarian and two are running in the Republican primary.
LGBTQ candidates in the Republican primary include a challenger, Shannon McClendon, who is running against what the magazine calls “anti-LGBTQ incumbent state Senator Donna Campbell” (R-New Braunfels). Mauro Garza is running in open Congressional District 21. Republican Rep. Lamar Smith from San Antonio is retiring.
Jess Herbst, reported to be “the state’s only trans elected official,” is running for nonpartisan reelection in the New Hope mayoral race. Trans woman Vanessa Edwards Foster is one of the many Democrats running in Congressional District 27 (vacated by Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold from Corpus Christi).
Three of the candidates are African-American, and eight are Hispanic, including “out lesbian” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, the magazine reported. Jeffrey Payne is also a Democratic candidate for governor. The magazine reported that Payne “became the subject of national media attention due in part to his status as the owner of a leather bar in Dallas.”
Thirteen of the candidates are from Harris County. Cooke Kelsey is running for judge and told OutSmart, “[Former Houston Mayor] Annise Parker opened the door for us, and I’m honored to have her endorsement.” The judicial candidate also said, “I haven’t felt this excited about change since when I dropped everything to work on the first Obama campaign.” Kelsey added, “But as recent cases show, our issues are still front and center. We owe it to ourselves to keep running and help bring Texas into the modern era.”
The OutSmart article listed the following known LGBTQ candidates for office:
• Jeffrey Payne, Governor, Dallas
• Lupe Valdez, Governor, Dallas
• Kerry Douglas McKennon, Lieutenant Governor, Petersburg
• Lorie Burch, U.S. Representative, District 3, Plano
• John Duncan, U.S. Representative, District 6, Arlington
• Mary Wilson, U.S. Representative, District 21, Austin
• Mauro Garza, U.S. Representative, District 21, San Antonio
• Gina Ortiz Jones, U.S. Representative, District 23, San Antonio
• Eric Holguin, U.S. Representative, District 27, Corpus Christi
• Vanessa Edwards Foster, U.S. Representative, District 27, Houston
• Steve Kirkland, Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 2, Houston
• Charles Spain, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 4, Houston
• Mark Phariss, State Senator, District 8, Plano
• Fran Watson, State Senator, District 17, Houston
• Shannon McClendon, State Senator, District 25, Dripping Springs
• Dylan Forbis, State Representative, District 29, Pearland
• Candace Aylor, State Representative, District 47, Austin
• Celia Israel, State Representative, District 50, Austin (incumbent)
• Mary Gonzalez, State Representative, District 75, El Paso (incumbent)
• Armando Gamboa, State Representative, District 81, Odessa
• Finnigan Jones, State Representative, District 94, Arlington
• Jessica Gonzalez, State Representative, District 104, Dallas
• Jenifer Pool, State Representative, District 138, Houston
• Cooke Kelsey, District Judge, 113th Judicial District, Houston
• Tonya Parker, District Judge, 116th Judicial District, Dallas (incumbent)
• Beau Miller, District Judge, 190th Judicial District, Houston
• George Arnold, District Judge, 281st Judicial District, Houston
• James Kovach, Judge, Harris County Civil Court-at-Law No. 2, Houston
• Shannon Baldwin, Judge, Harris County Criminal Court-at-Law No. 4, Houston
• Jerry Simoneaux, Judge, Harris County Probate Court-at-Law No. 1, Houston
• Jason Cox, Judge, Harris County Probate Court-at-Law No. 3, Houston
• Rosie Gonzalez, Judge, Bexar County Court-at-Law No. 13 , San Antonio
• Sara Martinez, Dallas County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 1, Dallas (incumbent)
• Susan Steeg, Travis County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3, Austin (incumbent)
• Jess Herbst, mayor, New Hope (incumbent)
• James Partsch-Galvan, U.S. Representative, District 29, Houston
• Sam Hatton, State Representative, District 71, Abilene
• Julie Johnson, State Representative, District 115, Carrollton
• Donald Brown, Judge, Orange County Court-at-Law, Vidor
• Justin Mosley, Justice of the Peace, Place 2, Angelina County, Lufkin
OutSmart reported that some of the candidates they contacted did not want to be publicly identified as LGBTQ.
“This time around, I’m not running that kind of race, so I don’t have a place for the gay agenda, and I don’t want to participate.” The county-level candidate wrote in response to an OutSmart inquiry: “In a year and a half, I may be running for another office, and we can talk then.”
Another candidate said they weren’t sure that they wanted to publicly discuss an issue when “I haven’t totally addressed it privately.” OutSmart reported that there are currently 18 LGBTQ elected and appointed officials in Texas.