Rainbow flag

An unprecedented number of LGBTQ people have run for office throughout the 2018 election cycle — unleashing the potential for a rainbow wave of new openly LGBTQ elected officials at every level of government in November.

The increase in candidates running is particularly noticeable for congressional and gubernatorial positions, when analyzing candidates over the last five election cycles.

The number of LGBTQ women-identified nominees for Congress also rose dramatically.  

These high-level candidates are among the more than 430 openly LGBTQ people who ran for office at every level of government this cycle.

At least 244 openly LGBTQ candidates are still in the race and will appear on general election ballots in November. Of the 25 openly LGBTQ major party nominees for U.S. Congress and governor, all are Democrats.

The Victory Fund finds:

• Number of major party Congressional nominees over the last five cycles by political affiliation and gender.•

• Number of gubernatorial candidates and nominees over the last five cycles.

Here are the details from the fund:

Twenty-one openly LGBTQ candidates won Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate or U.S. House this year – more than at any other time in U.S. history. The unprecedented number of nominees marks a 24 percent increase when compared to the 2016 election cycle and a 320 percent increase since 2010.

The number of LGBTQ women-identified nominees skyrocketed 160 percent since 2016, the year which held the previous record. There are 13 LGBTQ women-identified congressional nominees this year — outnumbering the number of men-identified nominees – including both U.S. Senate nominees who are women.

There are zero known LGBTQ Republican party nominees for U.S. Congress this election cycle, the first time since 2010 there are no openly LGBTQ Republican Congressional candidates on the general election ballot. 

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is the only openly LGBTQ person ever elected to the U.S. Senate and there are six openly LGBTQ members of the U.S. House.

A record seven known LGBTQ candidates ran for governor during the 2018 election cycle and four received a major party nomination — a historic high.

Incredibly, the four nominees represent the full LGBT acronym, with one lesbian (Lupe Valdez of Texas), one gay man (Jared Polis of Colorado), one bisexual woman (Kate Brown of Oregon) and one transgender woman (Christine Hallquist of Vermont) to appear on the ballot in November.

Before this election cycle, no more than three openly LGBTQ people had ever run for governor in one election cycle and never had more than one openly LGBTQ person been nominated for the governor’s office by a major party.

All gubernatorial nominees have been Democrats. 

Gov. Kate Brown is the only openly LGBTQ person ever elected governor in the United States.

Annise Parker, president & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, released the following statement about this research: “A wave of enthusiasm among Democratic primary voters for openly LGBTQ candidates has unleashed a Rainbow Wave that can transform the U.S. Congress and our governors’ mansions come November. It represents an evolution in American politics – with voters choosing out LGBTQ candidates as the solution to the divisiveness and dysfunction we see in Washington and in many of our state capitals. The struggles and experiences of LGBTQ candidates provide a unique perspective that makes them authentic, values-driven leaders, and it is resonating. LGBTQ candidates join women, people of color, immigrants and Muslims who are running this cycle to lead the change we demand to see in our politics.

“The dramatic spike in openly LGBTQ people running for the highest levels of government is thrilling but one-sided, with zero openly LGBTQ Republican Congressional or gubernatorial nominees. The anti-LGBTQ policies pursued by the White House and in extreme-right state legislatures has led to few openly LGBTQ people running in a Republican primary – and those who do are too often sidelined by homophobic or transphobic political forces. Instead of a Rainbow Wave that should be celebrated by all Americans who believe in the wisdom of a truly representative government, we have a historic moment that is almost entirely partisan. This story will not change until the party of Lincoln rejects the divisive rhetoric and policies too many of its leaders rely on.”

Currently, 576 known LGBTQ elected officials are serving nationwide – just 0.1 percent of all elected official positions.

Americans must elect 22,810 more LGBTQ elected officials to achieve equitable representation in government.

View all openly LGBTQ elected officials on LGBTQ Victory Institute’s Out for America interactive map, or read its Out for America report from June 2018.

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