LOS ANGELES — Across California on Tuesday, openly LGBTQ+ candidates and pro-equality allies running for office dominated in key races up and down the ballot. With the backing of Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, San Diego mayoral candidate Asm. Todd Gloria emerged from his primary as the clear frontrunner, pro-equality ally Asm. Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) placed first in both her special election and primary election for the 25th Congressional District and state senate candidates Asm. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and Abigail Medina (D-San Bernardino) both advanced to the November election. If elected, Eggman and Medina would make history as the first two LGBTQ+ women of color to serve in the California Senate. Both dual-endorsed candidates for California’s 53rd Congressional District Sara Jacobs and Georgette Gómez also advanced to the November election. Additional information about many of Equality California’s priority races is included below.
“Yesterday’s results clearly demonstrated that openly LGBTQ+ Californians and our allies are winning in every corner of the state with a broad, diverse base of support from voters,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur. “As importantly, voters overwhelmingly rejected candidates who engaged in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and homophobic campaign tactics. Californians have had enough of the hate and division in Washington — they’re looking for leaders who will unite our communities and fight for our common values. Supporting LGBTQ+ civil rights and social justice is a winning strategy across California. And candidates who refuse to stand on the right side of history will soon find themselves standing alone.”
Notably, three Democratic candidates who had engaged in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and campaign tactics suffered embarrassing defeats on Tuesday. After raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for his CA-25 bid, online talk show host Cenk Uygur barely received 5 percent of the vote in both the special election to serve the rest of U.S. Representative Katie Hill’s (D-Santa Clarita) first term and the 2020 primary election for the seat. Senate hopefuls Mani Grewal (D-Modesto) and Kris Goodfellow (D-Redlands) both fell short of advancing to the November election after engaging in anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns against Eggman and Medina.
Equality California ran a robust get-out-the-vote operation to boost priority state, local and federal candidates. Equality California Political Action Committee, the state PAC affiliated with the civil rights organization, ran independent expenditure campaigns — including combinations of direct mail, robocalls, peer-to-peer text messaging and digital advertising — in Senate Districts 5, 11, 21 and 23; Assembly Districts 78 and 42; and the San Diego Mayor’s race. Equality California staff and board members volunteered as canvassers supporting endorsed candidates in Congressional District 25 and Senate Districts 11, 15, 21, 23 and 37.
According to the first wave of NBC News’s exit polling on Tuesday, LGBTQ+ voters made up 11 percent of California’s primary electorate. This tracks with Equality California’s polling, which shows that LGBTQ+ Californians make up 12 percent of registered voters in the Golden State and reinforces the fact that the LGBTQ+ community is a critical, powerful voting bloc in California that should not be ignored or taken for granted.
Other openly LGBTQ+ candidates advancing to the November general election include Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Assemblymembers Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside), as well as senate candidate John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and Assembly candidate Jackie Smith (D-Rocklin). Assembly candidates Scott Rhinehart (D-Mission Viejo) and Alex Lee (D-San Jose) are currently in second place in races that are too close to call. Senate candidate Joy Silver is currently in third place in the special election race for Senate District 28 — also too close to call — which will almost certainly go to a May 12 runoff.
Key Races in which Equality California engaged:
To see a full list of Equality California’s endorsed candidates, visit eqca.org/elections.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org