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Unprecedented Number of LGBTQ Candidates on Texas Primary Ballot

An unprecedented number of LGBTQ candidates will be on the ballot in the March 6 Texas primary elections. (Bland/GettyImages)
An unprecedented number of LGBTQ candidates will be on the ballot in the March 6 Texas primary elections. (Bland/GettyImages)
January 31, 2018

HOUSTON – An unprecedented number of openly LGBTQ candidates will be on the ballot for the March 6 Texas primary elections.

According to OutSmart, a Houston entertainment and advocacy magazine, at least 49 LGBTQ candidates – both Republicans and Democrats – will be on the ballot running for offices ranging from Texas governor down to small town mayors and council members.

Chuck Smith, CEO of the advocacy group Equality Texas, says the Lone Star State appears to be leading a wave of LGBTQ political activity as a result of the current political climate.

"I believe that the groundswell and increase in the numbers of people that are running is in response to the seven-consecutive-month period of attacks during the Texas Legislature regular session and special session," he states.

Smith says the field of candidates includes two running for governor, one for Texas Supreme Court, eight for the U.S. Congress, about a dozen for the Texas Legislature and several more for various judicial seats.

OutSmart reports that there are 23 female candidates, 26 males and several African-American and Hispanic candidates.

The report says there are currently 18 LGBTQ incumbents across the state.

Smith says he believes most of the candidates are motivated to seek office by more than just their sexual orientation.

"The people that are running – it needs to be more than just about their identities,” he states. “Hopefully, they are also running because they are knowledgeable of the issues in their district and hopefully believe that they could provide solutions."

Smith says many of them may have become politicized at the State Capitol last year, representing an interest group or themselves during the legislative debate over the controversial "bathroom bill."

"It comes down to the adage that if you're not at the table, you're on the menu, and these people want to be at the table and they want to be a part of the conversation," he says.

The Texas primary will be the first of the 2018 midterm elections.

Feb. 6 – next Tuesday – is the last day to register, and early voting begins Feb. 20. The general election is Nov. 6.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - TX