In an historic night for openly LGBTQ and pro-equality candidates across the country, Californians elected longtime LGBTQ ally Gavin Newsom to be the Golden State’s next governor and Equality California-endorsed candidate Eleni Kounalakis as the state’s next lieutenant governor, while re-electing U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. Additionally, openly gay California Senator Ricardo Lara currently leads Republican-turned-independent Steve Poizner in the race for Insurance Commissioner by more than 105,000 votes, as of Wednesday morning. If elected, Lara will make history as the state’s first openly LGBTQ statewide official.
“With millions of ballots left to be counted across the state, it is already clear that Californians sent a clear message to Washington, rejecting the politics of fear and division, and electing leaders who will work to unite us and fight for full equality,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “The LGBTQ community has much to celebrate this morning — with openly LGBTQ and pro-equality candidates making history across the country last night, a new pro-equality majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and a historic number of women elected to the House, too. We congratulate and look forward to working with Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor-elect Eleni Kounalakis and pro-equality leaders in the Legislature and new Congress to continue making progress toward a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people.”
Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, ran a robust $650,000 voter engagement and get-out-the vote program in 2018. The robust effort included a direct mail campaign reaching approximately 740,000 voters — including targeted mail
supporting Senator Lara, Assemblymember Tony Thurmond’s campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction and eight pro-equality candidates for the California Legislature — and robocalls to approximately 520,000 voters supporting Lara, nine pro-equality Congressional candidates, 14 pro-equality state legislative candidates and 12 openly LGBTQ local candidates.
California appears likely to play a role in delivering the first pro-equality majority in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2010, as Equality California-endorsed candidates Katie Hill (CA-25), Harley Rouda (CA-48) and Mike Levin (CA-49) all lead their anti-LGBTQ opponents by slim margins, with the races still too close to call. Pro-equality Congressional candidates Josh Harder (CA-10), Gil Cisneros (CA-39) and Katie Porter (CA-45) are currently trailing their opponents, but with thousands of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots left to be counted in each race, it could be weeks before any of the races are called.
In partnership with NextGen America and the California Labor Federation
, Equality California also supported the campaigns of Congressional candidates Katie Hill (CA-25), Gil Cisneros (CA-39), Katie Porter (CA-45) and Harley Rouda (CA-48) by targeting pro-equality voters in four swing districts — knocking on 7,200 doors and contacting more than 123,000 voters through live phone calls and peer-to-peer text messaging.
Other priority races for Equality California included the contest to become California’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction and the effort to reelect Legislative LGBT Caucus Member Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes. Equality California-endorsed candidate Assemblymember Tony Thurmond currently trails Marshall Tuck by a slim margin in the Superintendent’s race, while Cervantes leads her challenger Bill Essayli by three votes. Equality California also strongly supported openly LGBTQ legislative candidates Joy Silver (SD-28), Jovanka Beckles (AD-15) and Sunday Gover (AD-77), who ran strong races and are currently trailing their opponents in races too close to call.