Tag Archives: victory fund

Wisconsin-focused doc ‘Citizen Koch’ to screen in Madison, Milwaukee

Madison and Milwaukee will screen Citizen Koch, which tells the story of the changing American political landscape from the perspective of three Wisconsin state employees — all lifelong Republicans — who found their party taking direct aim at them with Scott Walker’s campaign against collective bargaining and unions.

The documentary premieres in June after debuting at Sundance. The film will open in Madison and Milwaukee on June 13. It also will screen in other select cities, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Columbus, Ohio, and Hartford, Connecticut.

Academy Award-nominated directors Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, who co-produced Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine, made the film about the rise of the tea party, the impact of Citizens United, the influence of right-wing billionaires such as the Koch brothers and Scott Walker’s war on workers.

The filmmakers completed production with crowdfunding after PBS canceled its support for the project, apparently out of concern for losing donor support from David Koch.

For more, go to citizenkoch.com.

In other news 

• Transition Milwaukee hosts the fifth annual Power Down Week, a series of events designed to build community and encourage energy conservation. Organizers are building support and preparing now for the week, which is July 6–13. For more, go to www.powerdownweek.com.

• The Human Rights Campaign is urging a boycott of American hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei after Brunei advanced a series of changes to its penal code that would allow for the stoning of LGBT people. The sultan issued the law despite his notoriously lavish and depraved lifestyle, which includes scores of harems of young girls and many homes, one of which has 1,800 rooms. The tiny Southeast Asian nation began phasing in a version of sharia law in early May, prompting HRC to call for a boycott of The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel Air, which are part of the Sultan’s Dorchester collection. For more, go to www.hrc.org.

• The Gay & Lesbian Institute is accepting applications for a candidate and campaign training session in Portland, Oregon, June 19–22. The weekend-long program will bring prospective candidates, staffers and community organizers together for workshops taught by consultants and campaign veterans. For more, go to www.victoryfund.org.

— L.N.

Lesbian lawmaker running for Maryland governor

A Maryland lawmaker hopes to be elected the nation’s first openly gay governor.

Delegate Heather Mizeur is running in the 2014 election.

The Democrat has been exploring a run for months and also would become Maryland’s first female governor if elected.

“It’s a sign of how far we’ve come as a state that an openly gay person can be a serious candidate for governor,” Mizeur said. “But the fact that we’re still talking about it is a sign that we still have a ways to go.”

Maryland legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year, after voters approved legislation in November allowing it.

An openly gay candidate has never been elected governor in any state.

Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey resigned in 2004 after announcing he was gay and had had an affair with a male staffer.

Mizeur, who has been a member of Maryland’s House of Delegates since 2007, has focused on health issues while in office. She also has been an outspoken advocate for caution in allowing drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale in western Maryland. Mizeur has called for a thorough study of health, environmental and economic impacts before allowing hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technique commonly known as fracking.

Mizeur said she planned to roll out over the course of the campaign ideas for boosting job creation and improving schools. She also announced a series of public service events across the state.

Some have questioned how well the 40-year-old delegate from Takoma Park, in Montgomery County near the nation’s capital, will be able to compete against statewide officeholders who have been planning a gubernatorial race for years. But Mizeur placed second in an April straw poll in western Maryland, and she said she is confident her campaign is building enthusiasm.

“We’re building a grassroots campaign that will absolutely have the resources to compete for every vote,” Mizeur said Tuesday in an interview.

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown also is seeking the Democratic nomination. Democratic Attorney General Doug Gansler, who has held two forums about future policy plans, is expected to announce his bid in September. Democratic Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Baltimore County is considering running.

Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley is serving his second term, the maximum allowed under state law.

Gay mayoral candidate’s body found by Mississippi levee

Whatever his prospects for winning the coming mayoral election in his hometown of Clarksdale, Miss., Marco McMillian was considered by many to be a man on the rise. So word spread fast when his SUV was involved in a wreck this week, and he was nowhere to be found.

The discovery of the openly gay candidate’s body near a Mississippi River levee Wednesday stunned residents of Clarksdale, a Blues mecca in the flatlands of the Mississippi Delta.

Authorities were investigating McMillian’s death as a homicide, and said a person of interest was in custody, but released few other details.

“There’s a lot of people upset about it,” said Dennis Thomas, 33, who works at Abe’s Barbeque.

“Why would somebody want to do something like that to somebody of that caliber? He was a highly respected person in town,” Thomas said.

The 34-year-old Democrat wasn’t running what many would consider a typical campaign for political office in Mississippi, which is known for its conservative politics.

Campaign spokesman Jarod Keith said McMillian’s campaign was noteworthy because he may have been the first openly gay man to be a viable candidate for public office in the state.

McMillian, who was black, had also forged ties while serving for four years as international executive director of the historically black Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. Photos on McMillian’s website and Facebook page show him with a younger Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat.

Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith said McMillian’s body was found Wednesday morning near the levee between Sherard and Rena Lara. It was sent to Jackson for an autopsy.

Meredith said the case is being investigated as a homicide, but he declined to speculate on the cause of death.

Authorities had been looking for McMillian since early Feb. 26, when a man crashed the candidate’s SUV into another vehicle on U.S. Highway 49. McMillian was not in the car.

The sheriff’s office said Feb. 28 that a person of interest was in custody, but had not been formally charged.

Will Rooker, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, declined to release other details.

McMillian was CEO of MWM & Associates, described on its website as a consulting firm for nonprofit organizations. In addition to his role at the fraternity from 2007 to 2011, McMillian had previously worked to raise funds as executive assistant to the president at Alabama A&M University and as assistant to the vice president at Jackson State University, according to his campaign.

A statement from the fraternity said he had secured the first federal contract to raise awareness about the impact of HIV and AIDS on communities of color. It noted that Ebony Magazine had recognized him in 2004 as one of the nation’s “30 up-and-coming African Americans” under age 30.

Supporters say McMillian – a 1997 graduate of Clarksdale High School who graduated magna cum laude from Jackson State and held a master’s degree from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota in philanthropy and development – had big ideas for Clarksdale, a town of about 17,800 people.

The town is well known to Blues fans as the home of the crossroads, where Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil for skills with a guitar. Academy Award-winning actor and Mississippi native Morgan Freeman is part owner of the Ground Zero Blues Club in town. Clarksdale is also hounded by the poverty typical of the Mississippi Delta.

McMillian was hoping to win the office being vacated by Mayor Henry Espy Jr., the brother of Mike Espy, a former congressman and U.S. agriculture secretary. Henry Espy decided not to seek re-election after more than two decades in office. Espy’s son, state Rep. Chuck Espy, and Bill Luckett, a partner in Freeman’s club, were among the other well-known candidates in the race. The primary is May 7.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute tweeted: “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Marco McMillian, one of the 1st viable openly (hash)LGBT candidates in Mississippi.”

McMillian’s campaign said in a statement that words cannot describe “our grief at the loss of our dear friend.”

“We remember Marco as a bold and passionate public servant, whose faith informed every aspect of his life,” the statement said.

Colorado Dems elect gay House speaker

Colorado Democrats have elected the first openly gay House speaker in state history, giving control of the chamber to a man who was the public face of a fierce debate over civil union legislation that Republicans defeated six months ago.

Democratic lawmakers on Nov. 8 picked Denver Rep. Mark Ferrandino to lead the state House, which they re-took in this week’s election. His election won’t be official until lawmakers reconvene in January and Republicans ratify the pick.

According to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, there are currently two openly gay House speakers in state legislatures: John Perez in California and Gordon Fox in Rhode Island.

Ferrandino’s ascent is particularly notable in a state where voters banned gay marriage six years ago, and prohibited municipalities from passing laws to protect gays from discrimination 20 years ago.

Record number of LGBT candidates seeking office

There’s an easy bet on Nov. 6 – the majority of members elected to the 113th Congress will be male, Caucasian, Christian and heterosexual. That’s the way it’s always been, though in recent decades there have been changes in the demographics on Capitol Hill.

Still, this year, a record number of women have campaigned for federal elected office. And the same can be said of LGBT candidates for Congress – there are an unprecedented nine out candidates for federal office in the general election.

One of them, Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, is running for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. She faces former Gov. Tommy Thompson in a close contest.

Eight other candidates are running in the general election for the U.S. House, including Democrat Mark Pocan of Wisconsin.

Currently there are no out members of the Senate and four out members of the House – Baldwin, Jared Polis, David Cicilline and Barney Frank, the Democratic titan from Massachusetts who is retiring after serving 16 terms in Congress.

Frank made history in 1987 when he came out to the Boston Globe, saying, “I don’t think my sex life is relevant to my job, but on the other hand I don’t want to leave the impression that I’m embarrassed about my life.”

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, founded 21 years ago to elect LGBT candidates, is looking to Baldwin to make history and become the first openly gay person elected to the Senate; to Kyrsten Sinema to become the first openly bisexual person elected to the House; and to Mark Takano to become the first openly gay Asian-American elected to the House.

Patrick Maloney, who is campaigning to unseat first-term Republican Nan Hayworth, would be the first gay man elected to Congress from New York.

Richard Tisei would be the third out gay Republican to serve in Congress, but the others came out – or were outed – after their elections.

Pocan, a heavy favorite, would take Baldwin’s seat – and make Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District the first in the nation to elect two openly gay reps in a row.

Cicilline, favored in his race, is seeking a second term. Polis has been serving in Congress since 2009.

Nicole LeFavour, in probably the toughest race with a run against Republican incumbent Mike Simpson, would become the second openly lesbian member of the House.

“We’re just a few weeks away from making history,” said Chuck Wolfe, president of the Victory Fund, which endorsed all but LeFavour in the federal races. ”For the first time ever, LGBT Americans could have an authentic voice in the U.S. Senate and a record-high number of openly LGBT House members on both sides of the aisle.”

The Victory Fund, founded in 1991, has followed the lead of EMILY’S List, the donor network supporting pro-women candidates that helped propel Ann Richards to the Texas governor’s office in 1990. 

At the time of the founding, there were only 49 openly LGBT people holding elected office in the entire nation.

During the Victory Fund’s first election season, in 1991, the group helped elect Sherry Harris to the Seattle City Council. By 1994, the rapidly growing fund helped elect 14 candidates and contributed more than $660,000 to campaigns.

The fund’s revenue in 2011 was about $5 million and, at the latest count, more than 500 out LGBT people hold elected office in the United States.

For the entire 2012 election cycle, the Victory Fund has endorsed a record 175 out candidates – eight for Congress, seven for legislative offices in 30 states and dozens more at the municipal, county, judicial and school board levels.

“Whether at the local, state or national level, LGBT officeholders are helping to add significant power to legislative fights to win equality for all Americans. These candidates will make sure that progress continues, and that’s why their victories this year are so important,” Wolfe said.

Among those candidates: Fargo teacher Joshua Boschee, who is running for the North Dakota House; architect Mary Ellen Broderick, who is running for the New Mexico House; attorney Nena Cook, who is running for the Oregon Supreme Court; Judge Kay Floyd, who is running for the Oklahoma House; Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is running again; and Kevin Beckner, who is running for re-election to the Hillsborough County Commission in Florida.

Record number of gays run for Congress

Of the four openly gay members of Congress, the two longest-serving stalwarts are vacating their seats. Instead of fretting, their activist admirers are excited about a record number of gays vying to win seats in the next Congress – and to make history in the process.

When the oaths of office are taken in January, Congress could have its first openly gay Asian-American, Mark Takano of California; its first openly bisexual member, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona; and its first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

In all, eight openly gay candidates are running as major-party nominees for the House of Representatives, the most ever, including the two incumbents who are favored in their races – Democrats Jared Polis of Colorado and David Cicilline of Rhode Island. There’s one gay Republican in the group, Richard Tisei, who is waging a competitive campaign for a House seat from Massachusetts.

A common denominator in all the races: Neither the gay candidates nor their rivals are stressing sexual orientation, and the oft-heard refrain is, “It’s not an issue.” If anti-gay innuendo does surface from lower echelons of a campaign, there are disavowals – even conservative candidates these days think twice about being depicted as biased against gays and lesbians.

“People know that bigotry is bad politics,” said Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton who is trying to oust one-term Republican Nan Hayworth from New York’s 18th District in the Hudson Valley.

Maloney, who’d be the first openly gay member of Congress from New York, has assailed Hayworth for not supporting federal recognition of same-sex marriage, but says voters are focused on economic and health care issues, not on gay rights.

“The voters in my district care more about why my opponent wants to end Medicare and defund Planned Parenthood than about who I love,” said Maloney, who is raising three children with his partner of 20 years.

The veterans departing from the House are Barney Frank, D-Mass., perhaps the most powerful gay in elective office who is retiring after 16 terms, and Baldwin, who is vacating her House seat after seven terms to run for the Senate. Recent polls show her running slightly ahead of her GOP opponent, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Thompson has not made an issue of Baldwin’s sexual orientation, and said it was “a mistake” for an aide to have sent emails with a link to a video of Baldwin dancing at a 2010 gay Pride festival.

Chuck Wolfe of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which recruits and supports gay political candidates, said Thompson’s response epitomized the changed atmosphere in which Republicans are less inclined to use sexual orientation as a wedge issue and anti-gay attacks are becoming taboo.

“We still have them happen in local races, but in the federal races we hope we’ll get through them without seeing these kind of attacks,” Wolfe said.

Baldwin’s decision to run for the Senate prompted another openly gay Democrat, state legislator Mark Pocan, to enter the race to fill her seat from the 2nd District based in Madison, the liberal home to the University of Wisconsin. Pocan won a four-way Democratic primary in August and is a heavy favorite to win on Nov. 6.

In Arizona, Sinema and Republican Vernon Parker are squaring off in a newly reconfigured district in the Phoenix area that both parties view as winnable.

Sinema, 36, has been a staunch gay-rights advocate during eight years in the Legislature and is at ease acknowledging her bisexuality. But she responded sharply during her primary campaign after being told that her Democratic rival had suggested that a bisexual couldn’t win the general election.

“It’s true that I’m openly bisexual,” she told the Washington Blade. “I have been my entire adult life, and I’ve managed to win four elections, and, meanwhile, he’s lost two, so perhaps it was being straight that was the problem here.”

Like Sinema, Mark Takano is considered a strong candidate in a newly redrawn and competitive district – the 41st District that includes Riverside, Calif. The GOP nominee, John Tavaglione, hasn’t made an issue of Takano’s sexuality

Takano, a 51-year-old high school teacher, ran losing races for Congress in 1992 and again in 1994, when he was routed by a GOP rival who sent anti-Takano mailers in shades of pink after Takano’s sexual orientation became an issue.

“That became front-page news,” Takano said. “Today, it’s just an interesting part of my background as opposed to being a sensational story… People look back at what happened 18 years ago and say, ‘I can’t believe we ever did those things.’”

In Massachusetts, Tisei, a longtime state legislator, is running a vigorous campaign to unseat Democratic Rep. John Tierney. The National Republican Congressional Committee has included Tisei in its “Young Gun” program highlighting promising candidates.

There have been openly gay Republicans in Congress before – but they came out after being elected. Tisei would be the first Republican to enter Congress as an openly gay candidate.

Tisei is at odds with Republican Party orthodoxy on key social issues. He supports the Massachusetts law legalizing same-sex marriage and favors abortion rights. But he depicts himself as a fiscal conservative, and says the GOP’s stance on social issues will moderate faster if people like himself work from inside.

“I’ve been very welcomed and encouraged by the national party leaders,” he said in a telephone interview earlier this year. “As for issues of equality, you’ll never have true equality until you have advocates on both sides of the aisle.”

The other House races involving openly gay candidates:

– In Colorado, Polis is an overwhelmingly favorite to win re-election in the 2nd District that includes his liberal hometown of Boulder. He and his partner are raising a young son, which makes Polis the only gay member of Congress who’s a parent.

– In Rhode Island, Cicilline, a former mayor of Providence, is seeking a second term in the House but faces a tough challenge from Republican Brendan Doherty, a former head of the state police. During the Democratic primary campaign, there were brief flare-ups over complaints that supporters of Cicilline’s rival, Anthony Gemma, were engaging in anti-gay innuendo.

– In Idaho, Democratic state Sen. Nicole Lefavour – the first openly gay legislator ever in her state – is running against incumbent Republican Mike Simpson in the 2nd District. Of all the openly gay congressional candidates this year, she probably faces the longest odds, given that Simpson won re-election in 2010 with 69 percent of the vote.

In New York, the race between Maloney and Hayworth is distinctive in part because Hayworth has an openly gay son and is one of only three Republicans in the congressional gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caucus.

Have political dynamics evolved so thoroughly that being openly gay might now be an asset in the race?

“I don’t know I’d go that far,” Maloney said. “But there is a real power in being yourself. When you’re not afraid, when you live your life with honesty and integrity, it makes you a better parent, a better colleague, a better friend and a better candidate.”

On the Web…

The Victory Fund: http://www.victoryfund.org/home 


First lady addresses luncheon with LGBT delegates

First lady Michelle Obama told LGBT delegates gathered for a luncheon on Sept. 5 in Charlotte, N.C., that the November election is one for generations to come.

“The one thing I want to point out here today is that we don’t want to make any mistake about it – this election is about even more than the issues that are at stake right now,” she told the crowd of more than 600. “It’s about even more than the candidates that are on the ballot this year. This election, more than any other in history, is about how we want our democracy to function for decades to come.”

The event at the Marriott City Center took place about 11 hours before her husband will be nominated for re-election. The Human Rights Campaign and Victory Fund sponsored the event in partnership with the National Stonewall Democrats.

Attendees included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin, Chuck Wolfe, Victory Fund president and National Stonewall Democrats Jerame Davis.

Villaraigosa, the chair of the convention, said, “We worked very hard to be the most open, accessible and diverse convention in history. And it has been.”

He introduced Griffin, who introduced the first lady with a few questions: “Did you see that dress she was wearing? Where do I get those arms? Can she deliver a speech and inspire America or what?”

Representatives of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas picketed outside the hotel.

The following is the transcript of the address, as provided by the White House Office of the First Lady:

Thank you all so much. (Applause.)  Oh, my goodness!  You all, rest yourselves if you’re anything like me.  I’m a little tired after last night.  (Laughter.)

But I am beyond thrilled and proud to be with all of you today.  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you for having me.

     AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you!

     MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, my gosh.  (Applause.) 

I’m not going to talk long because I think you might be a little sick of me.  (Laughter.)

     AUDIENCE:  No!

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you so much. 

I want to start by thanking Chad for that very kind introduction and for his terrific leadership.  I love him dearly.  I think he’s a terrific individual and he is doing a great job here at the HRC.  So let’s give him another round of applause.  (Applause.) 

And I also want to thank Mayor Villaraigosa for joining us today and for his outstanding service.  He is doing a phenomenal job as chairman of this convention, but he’s also been a terrific advocate with me as we stand together to fight the issue of childhood obesity.  So he’s been a terrific leader there as well.

And I also want to recognize a congresswoman who has been a great leader in the House of Representatives, and who I know will make an outstanding senator for the state of Wisconsin – Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin.  Tammy, where are you?  (Applause.)  Yes, Tammy!  That’s my girl.  We got to hang out at one of our rallies in Wisconsin.  People were fired up.  Fired up.  (Laughter.)  It’s good to see you, Tammy.

So how about that opening night last night?  Yes.  (Applause.)  The energy and the enthusiasm that we saw last night made it clear that folks are pretty fired up, right?  (Applause.)  I didn’t see any enthusiasm gap, right?  Everybody was pretty excited.  But more importantly, last night truly set the stage for what’s at stake in this election and it set the stage for what we need to guide us forward for these next four years, because we have so much more work to do.

The evening reflected Barack’s broad and inclusive vision for this country as a place where every single one of us has something unique and special to contribute.  That’s the beauty of this party and last night.  And we should all have a chance to make a place in this country, to have a stake in this if we’re willing to work hard. 

And today, I want to thank all of you, truly, for playing a critical role in making that vision a reality.  We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the hard work of the people in this room and around the country.  I want to thank you for doing everything that you do every single day to lift up our communities and move this country forward, and ensure that all Americans are treated fairly no matter who they are or who they love. 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love Barack!

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, I do, too.  (Applause.)  We have something in common.  (Laughter.) 

But whether it’s passing hate crimes legislation or refusing to defend DOMA; whether it’s ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” or ensuring that – yes, yes – (applause) – or ensuring that people can be at their loved one’s hospital bedside – (applause) – or speaking out for the rights of all Americans to be able to do what Barack and I did and marry the love of our lives – (applause) – as president, my husband has stood strong for the basic values of freedom, justice and equality that make this country great.  And he always will. 

And that’s why all of you are here today, because you know that all of that and so much more is at stake in this election.  We can’t take anything for granted because it’s all still on the line.  And I know you’re here today because you believe, like I believe, that our President, my husband, he’s done an extraordinary job.  Truly, I am so proud of him.  (Applause.)  And as I said last night, he has done it with vision, with character, with wisdom, with grace, with the experience that we need to keep moving this country forward for four more years. 

But the one thing I want to point out here today is that we don’t want to make any mistake about it – this election is about even more than the issues that are at stake right now.  It’s about even more than the candidates that are on the ballot this year.  This election, more than any other in history, is about how we want our democracy to function for decades to come.  (Applause.)  It’s about the lessons that we want to teach our kids and our grandkids as they watch these campaigns and they see those results on election night. 

And we have to ask ourselves, do we want to give a few individuals in this country a far bigger say in our democracy than anybody else?


MRS. OBAMA:  Do we want our elections to be about who buys the most ads on TV?


MRS. OBAMA:  Do we want our kids and grandkids to walk away from this election feeling like regular folks can no longer be heard?


MRS. OBAMA:  Or are we going to show them that here in America, we all have an equal voice in the voting booth, and we all have a say in our country’s future, and a bottom-up, grassroots movement of people who love this country can always come together to move this country forward?  (Applause.) 

And what I want you all to focus on, because we can be fired up, which we are – (laughter) – and we can be ready to go, but you know it’s the work on the ground that makes the difference.  So with every call that you make – and I hope you are out there making calls; with every door you knock on – this is an active campaign; with every voter you register – because there are so many young people who are not registered, that are not focused, that are not paying attention, you all are providing the answers to those questions.  You all are making a powerful statement about how we want our democracy to work.  And by taking part in the democratic process that, for more than two centuries, has made this country one of the greatest countries on Earth, you all are helping to preserve that legacy for generations to come. 

So what I want to say here today is that we don’t have a single minute to waste.  We really don’t.  Time is of the essence.  And we need you all to be fired up, but we need you to work like never before. I mean, truly work like never before. We need you out there every single day between now and November the 6th. You see my face? I’m serious. (Laughter and applause.) It’s my serious-First-Lady face. (Laughter.) 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Your mom face.

MRS. OBAMA:  My mom face, that’s right. (Laughter.) That’s it. You heard me, Sasha. (Laughter.) Yes, that’s how it works. (Laughter and applause.)

But I’ve been out there, and I’ve been traveling. I will be out there. I’m going to be working as hard as I can and going every place I can go. (Applause.) And let me tell you what I have seen out there:  We have a first-rate campaign. I am so proud of the campaign that we are building, because it is a truly grassroots foundation. We’ve got thousands of offices all across this country. People who have been out there, you know our offices, our volunteers, our team leaders—we have millions of people who are taking time out of their lives, who don’t have time or money to spare, but they’re going into these campaign offices, they’re making calls, they’re knocking on doors—millions of people. 

And we also have millions of ways for people to get involved and volunteer. That is never the excuse. People can go to barackobama.com today and find out how they can sign up to get involved. So we have the resources to really handle all of this energy in this room and beyond. 

So here’s what I want you to think about:  If you do not live in a battleground state, get to one. (Laughter.) Get your suitcase, pack it up, get a car, do something, find that neighbor – get to a battleground state. If you can afford it, write a check – and if you haven’t maxed out, max out.  Max out. (Laughter and applause.)

But the more powerful thing that you can do is that you can make sure that every single person that you know – truly, leave no stone unturned; those friends, those neighbors, that nephew or niece who is kind of wayward and maybe you haven’t seen them since Christmas – (laughter) – that college roommate you haven’t spoken to in a while – yes, see, you’re looking. You know that guy, don’t you? (Laughter.) Call him. Make sure that every single one of them gets to the poll and casts their votes.

Because, as Barack has said, this election is going to be even closer than the last one. And quite frankly, all of these elections are close. Since I have been an adult paying attention to this stuff, they’re always close. But in the end, this election, like many, could come down to that last few thousand votes in a single battleground state. And what I’ve been doing is just sort of trying to put that in perspective, because when I see the numbers it’s pretty telling about how much power individuals have. 

But if you think back to what happened in 2008, Barack then – back then we won Florida by about 236,000 votes, OK? (Applause.) And while that might sound like a lot, when we break that down, that’s just 36 votes per precinct. Think about that – just 36 votes in a precinct. So where you live, that means – if where you live, you are pulling out 36, 40, 50 new people, you might be the person that carries the day in the state of Florida. And if you think that’s close, don’t forget that we won North Carolina by just 14,000 votes, which means just five votes per precinct. Five votes per precinct! That’s what makes the difference.

So, no one here can sit back and say, “I can’t possibly have an impact in this election,” because that is absolutely not true. Everyone here can really, truly make a difference. So starting the minute that you get up out of these chairs – whenever that’s going to be, because you still have food — (laughter) – you may finish lunch – (laughter and applause) – but after that, I want you all to get out there and think about who your 36 votes are going to be. Get out there. Find out who are your five votes. Then when you get that 36 or you get that five, then get five more, and then get five more, and again and again, and don’t stop until the polls close on November the 6th.

Because what we all do every day for the next 62 days, that is going to be the difference between us waking up on November the 7th and looking at each other wondering, “Could I have done more?” or feeling the promise of four more years and all that can be accomplished in four more years. (Applause.)

So that’s a direct action item, right? That’s clear, it’s consistent, it’s something that everybody can do. Everybody has somebody in their lives that they can influence, whether it’s just getting them to register to vote, really challenging them on the issues if they’re on the fence, pulling somebody in who is not engaged, finding that person who hasn’t written a check yet “just because.” We all know those people. So we need you to be fired up and ready to go and ready to really roll up your sleeves and make this happen. Because, as Barack and I say time and time again, we have come so far, but we have so much more to do. And we can’t afford to turn back now. Not now. All our kids are watching this. They are counting on us to step up and, as I said last night, to do what was hard, like our parents and grandparents did for us.

So let’s make this happen. Let’s make this happen. We need your help.

Thank you all so much. God bless you. Love you all. (Applause.)

Victory Fund endorses 16 more LGBT candidates for office

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund this week announced 16 more endorsements of openly LGBT candidates in the United States.

July’s endorsement slate brings to 146 the number of out candidates endorsed by the group this year, according to the national group founded to elect LGBT people to posts at local, state and federal levels.

The newest Victory Fund candidates are:

• Judy Appel, in Berkeley, Calif., for school board director.

• Don Bourque, in Massachusetts, for the state house of representatives.

• Ken Cheuvront, in Arizona, for the state senate.

• Tim Coco, in Massachusetts, for the state senate.

• Shelly Crocker, in Washington, for the state house.

• Tom DeGree, in Minnesota, for the state house.

• Gina Duncan, in Orange County, Fla., for county commissioner.

• Aaron Gill, in New Hampshire, for the state house.

• Heather Giugni, in Hawaii, for the state house.

• Dan Miller, in Harrisburg, Pa., for mayor.

• Jamie Pedersen, in Washington, for the state house.

• Laura Pisaturo, in Rhode Island, for the state senate.

• Lawrence Robinson, In Arizona, for the Roosevelt Elementary School District Governing Board.

• Ken Ross, in Ingham County, Mich., for circuit court judge.

• Matt Trieber, in Vermont, for the state house.

• Susan Wilson, in North Carolina, for the state house.

On the Web: http://www.victoryfund.org/home.

Outed Dem campaigns for Idaho House

Nate Murphy knocked on 8,000 doors and spent just $10 on his successful 2011 campaign for Pocatello’s school board, but the 22-year-old’s current bid to become Idaho’s youngest-ever legislator is exacting a higher price.

He’s running for Pocatello’s District 29 House seat as a Democrat in a Republican-dominated state. He also has a misdemeanor marijuana conviction from 2008 he knew he’d likely have to explain to voters before November.

And in March, he was accidentally outed as gay after Idaho’s only openly gay lawmaker told The New York Times that Murphy would be taking up her legacy.

That’s how his father and grandmother found out about his bisexuality.

Given those distractions, Murphy is working hard to refocus voter attention on the topics that matter to him, not diversionary issues he says distract from his core message of improving Idaho education, a theme that won him his School District 25 trustee seat last year.

“At the end of the line, I think the election is going to be my record in public service and the issues important to my district,” he said.

Until now, the youngest Idaho lawmaker was former Rep. Branden Durst, D-Boise, 26 when elected in 2006.

Murphy, still a junior at Idaho State University after taking semesters off to run Democratic campaigns in southwestern Idaho, aims to claim that title by telling voters he’ll fight Idaho public schools chief Tom Luna’s education reforms, passed by the 2011 Legislature to require online classes and student laptops.

Sticking to his message, however, has not been easy.

Earlier this year, Sen. Nicole LeFavour told The Times she was excited to think of Murphy becoming Idaho’s second-ever openly gay lawmaker. LeFavour, D-Boise, is the first, and the newspaper was profiling her retirement.

The only problem, Murphy said last week, he wasn’t out.

“I didn’t solicit that at all,” Murphy told The Associated Press in an interview.

LeFavour has since apologized to Murphy for breaking the gay community’s cardinal rule: Letting people come out on their own.

“I didn’t know he wasn’t out,” she said. “I felt horrible.”

Murphy has since made peace with his outing, accepting the endorsement of the Washington, D.C.-based Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. The group encourages gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender candidates to address questions about their sexuality frankly – before quickly shifting to matters more important to voters.

“If a candidate spends too much time talking about their sexual orientation, they’re likely going to alienate voters,” said Denis Dison, a spokesman.

Murphy said he’s following that advice to win voters in a district where Idaho State University and his school district are the biggest employers.

“The social issues are not going to keep people in my district employed or not,” he said.

Catalina Steckbauer, the Bannock County Democratic Party’s chairwoman, doesn’t think Murphy’s bisexuality is going to matter in Pocatello, an old railroad town with a painting of its namesake Indian chief in the vacant train depot downtown.

“I really believe that is a non-issue,” Steckbauer said. “In other parts of the state, it could be, but not here.”

A mixture of union members, students and ISU academics have kept District 29 Democratic for the last two decades.

The district is important to Democrats’ strategy of expanding their reach in the Legislature beyond the scant 20 of 105 seats the minority party holds now.

“Nate’s a special one,” said state Democratic Party chairman Larry Grant. “That’s a seat we need to keep.”

During an AP review of numerous Idaho candidates’ criminal records, Murphy’s four-year-old drug conviction emerged.

In 2008, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession, paying a $471 fine.

Murphy calls it a foolish teen blunder. He was smoking along a suburban path in Eagle, Idaho, west of Boise where he grew up, and somebody reported him to police. “I was 18 and stupid,” Murphy said. “It made me re-evaluate the choices I was making then.”

Murphy’s Republican opponent this November is Dave Bowen, 59-year-old masonry contractor.

Bowen lost in 2010 to incumbent Democratic Rep. Elaine Smith by 531 votes, or about six percentage points, but believes Murphy’s youth and biography may catch up to him.

“Pocatello is a pretty family-oriented town,” said Bowen, a father of six. “Anything that goes against family values is going to be an issue. He’s a nice guy and all that, he’s accomplished a lot for a kid who is 22. But he’s still 22.”

Murphy’s Democratic supporters said they aren’t wavering, despite a few campaign hiccups.

“Some of it sounds like youth,” said Rep. Roy Lacey, a Pocatello Democrat. “Nate will be a great legislator, he lives and breathes politics.”

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Latina lesbians win Texas primaries

Mary E. Gonzalez on May 29 won a decisive Democratic primary to represent District 75 in the Texas House of Representatives.

The openly lesbian candidate, who was endorsed by the national Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, faces no Republican opponent in November. So she will win the El Paso seat and become the state’s only openly LGBT lawmaker.

“This is a big victory for Mary, for El Paso and for Texas,” said Chuck Wolfe, Victory Fund president. “The people of El Paso will be represented by a talented and committed fighter who knows how to get things done in Austin. And LGBT Texans will be represented by an authentic voice in the Capitol, standing up and speaking out for fairness and freedom for all.”

Gonzalez will become just the second openly LGBT individual to serve in the Texas Legislature. The first, former state Rep. Glen Maxey, served from 1991 to 2003.

Other Victory Fund-backed candidates winning their primary elections in Texas on May 29 include Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.

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