Group endorses 57 Democrats, one Republican in March 6 primaries.
By Brandon Wolf
During the largest endorsement meeting in its history, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus backed Andrew White for governor over two openly gay candidates.
Caucus members voted to endorse White, a Houstonian who is the son of former Gov. Mark White, over longtime Dallas County sheriff Lupe Valdez and Dallas businessman Jeffrey Payne.
Prior to the vote, several Caucus members said they felt White would be a more viable opponent for incumbent Republican Governor Greg Abbott in the general election. Others, including pioneering LGBTQ activist Ray Hill, mentioned their personal friendships with White’s father, who was from Houston and returned to the city after serving as governor.
“I’m humbled by and unbelievably grateful for the Houston GLBT Political Caucus’ endorsement,” White said in a statement after the vote. “Mark my words: I will fight hard for full LGBTQ equality as governor and come out swinging against any efforts to discriminate. It’s past time to treat all Texans fairly and equally under the law.”
White was among 58 candidates endorsed by the Caucus, the oldest LGBTQ civil rights group in the South, during a six-and-a-half-hour meeting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, Feb. 3. The 130 available seats were filled, and approximately 250 others packed the room, spilling over into an adjacent hallway.
The governor’s race wasn’t the only contest in which the Caucus rejected an LGBTQ candidate in favor of a non-LGBTQ opponent in the Democratic primary. In fact, of the 11 openly LGBTQ candidates who sought the Caucus’ endorsement, only five received it.
Among those who did not win the Caucus’ backing was transgender candidate Jenifer Pool, a former president of the group. The Caucus instead voted to endorse Democrat Adam Milasincic for Texas House District 138.
“This is painful for me,” said Daniel Williams, a member of the Caucus’ candidate screening committee. “I would support Jenifer any day for city council, but I do not think she is the best candidate for this Texas state representative position.”
Caucus members largely followed the recommendations of the screening committee, disagreeing only five times—in three judicial races and two county school elections. Thirty-seven Caucus members put in more than 800 volunteer hours to come up with the recommendations.
Ironically, the longest debate of the day involved a race in which the Caucus ultimately did not make an endorsement: Congressional District 7, which covers much of west Houston. Members voted down separate motions to endorse Justin Westin, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, Alex Triantaphyllis, and Laura Moser. Pursuant to a motion from former city councilwoman Sue Lovell, the Caucus opted instead to hold a community forum for Democrats seeking the seat held by Republican incumbent John Culberson.
The District 7 candidates were among 223 Democrats running for 59 offices who sought the Caucus’ endorsement. Only three Republicans sought the group’s backing, and only one received it: Mary Miller, a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Ted Cruz.
Congressional District 36 candidate Dayna Steele, who was endorsed by the Caucus, told OutSmart she sees an “incredible grassroots out there” in 2018.
“We will never outraise people like the Koch brothers, but we can out-work, out-talk, out-charm and out-care them,” Steele said. “Democrats have been bullied into political closets. Now they are coming out in great numbers.”
“There is an incredible number of people running this time for the right reason,” Steele added. “They genuinely care about people. They care about people over profit, and people over party. There are a lot of people who never thought they would be doing this, but there is nothing else we can do.”
A full list of the Caucus’ endorsements is below.
U.S. Senator: Beto O’Rourke
Congressional District 2: Todd Linton
Congressional District 7: No endorsement
Congressional District 10: Madeline K. Eden
Congressional District 14: Adrienne Bell
Congressional District 18: Sheila Jackson-Lee
Congressional District 22: Sri Preston Kulkarni
Congressional District 29: Sylvia R. Garcia
Congressional District 36: Dayna Steele
Governor: Andrew White
Lieutenant Governor: Mike Collier
Land Commissioner: Tex Morgan
State Board of Education District 4: Steven A. Chambers
Texas Senate District 15: John Whitmire
Texas Senate District 17: Fran Watson
Texas House District 27: Ron Reynolds
Texas House District 28: Meghan Scoggins
Texas House District 29: Dylan Forbis
Texas House District 126: Natali Hurtado
Texas House District 132: No Endorsement
Teas House District 133: Sandra G. Moore
Texas House District 134: Allison Sawyer
Texas House District 138: Adam Milasincic
Texas House District 139: Randy Bates
Texas House District 142: Harold V. Dutton Jr.
Texas House District 146: Shawn Nicole Thierry
Texas House District 147: Garnet Coleman
Texas 14th Court of Appeals, Seat 3: Jerry Zimmerer
Texas 14th Court of Appeals, Seat 8: Margaret “Meg” Poissant
Harris County 55th Civil District Court: Paul Simon
Harris County 113th Civil District Court: Rabeea Collier
Harris County 185th Criminal District Court: Jason Luong
Harris County 188th Civil District Court: Scot “Dolli” Dollinger
Harris County 234th Civil District Court: Lauren Reeder
Harris County 269th Civil District Court: Cory Sepolio
Harris County 281st Civil District Court: George Arnold
Harris County 246th Family District Court: Angela Graves-Harrington
Harris County 280th Family District Court: Barbara J. Stalder
Harris County 309th Family District Court: Linda Marie Dunson
Harris County 313th Family District Court: Natalia Oakes
Harris County Criminal Court No. 2: Harold J. Landreneau
Harris County Criminal Court No. 5: David M. Fleischer
Harris County Criminal Court No. 7: Andrew A. Wright
Harris County Criminal Court No. 11: Gus Saper
Harris County Criminal Court No. 12: Juan J. Aguirre
Harris County Criminal Court No. 13: Raul Rodriguez
Harris County Criminal Court No. 15: Kris Ougrah
Harris County Probate Court No. 2: Jim L. Peacock
Harris County Probate Court Seat 4: Michael Galligan
Harris County Civil Court No. 2: Jim Kovach
Harris County District Clerk: Marilyn Burgess
Harris County Clerk: Diane Trautman
Harris County Treasurer: Dylan Osborne
Harris County Commissioner Precinct 2: Adrian Garcia
Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4: Penny Shaw
Harris County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3, Seat 2: Don Coffey
Harris County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 7, Seat 2: Audrie Lawton
Harris County School Trustee, At Large Seat 3: Elvonte Patton
Harris County School Trustee Position 6, Precinct 1: Danyahel (Danny) Norris
U.S. Senator: Mary Miller
Congressional District 2: No Endorsement
Harris County 280th Family Protective Order District Court: No Endorsement