Openly-LGBTQ Candidates Score Wins on Primary Election Night
Openly-LGBTQ Candidates Score Wins on Election Night
Equality Florida Action PAC Goes Toe-to-Toe With DeSantis in School Board Races
TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Voters across Florida sent a clear message as openly-LGBTQ candidates won reelection statewide: equality wins. State Representative Michele Rayner and State Senator Shevrin Jones secured primary victories in their reelection bids. Voters also tossed out anti-LGBTQ Representative James Bush III, the only Democrat to vote in favor of the Don’t Say LGBTQ bill in the 2022 legislative session, electing pro-equality champion Ashley Gantt. When given the choice, voters doubled down on pro-equality champions.
“We are thrilled voters are sending openly-LGBTQ members back to Tallahassee to continue the fight,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida Executive Director. “In ousting Representative James Bush, voters also sent a clear warning that politicians will pay a price for their anti-LGBTQ agendas. As the legislature has lurched to the far right, abdicating their responsibility to Floridians to serve Governor DeSantis’ political ambitions, the voices of pro-equality legislators have been critical in fighting back against censorship and discrimination.”
Governor DeSantis has spent months championing his own efforts to bolster his preferred school board candidates in Florida, recently appearing alongside his endorsees in Sarasota and Miami-Dade. However, the results included important wins by pro-equality candidates over his endorsees. In Hillsborough County, Karen Perez defeated DeSantis-endorsed Alysha Legge in a countywide school board race. In Alachua County, after being removed by DeSantis earlier this year, Diyonne McGraw bested DeSantis appointee Mildred Russell. McGraw was part of a progressive wave on the Alachua County School Board. In Flagler County, Sally Hunt defeated incumbent Jill Woolbright, one of the most visible anti-LGBTQ school board members in the state, who infamously called the police to report All Boys Aren’t Blue, a book written by Black LGBTQ author George Johnson, in the school library.
Moms For Liberty, the right-wing group cooked up by GOP political operatives to serve as the handmaidens of Governor DeSantis’ anti-freedom agenda, fared even worse than the governor with barely one in three of their candidates winning tonight. In fifteen head-to-head matchups between Moms For Liberty and Equality Florida Action PAC-endorsed candidates, voters chose pro-equality champions over extremists in a majority of races. Two-thirds of Equality Florida Action PAC’s 45 endorsed school board candidates won outright or advanced to a run-off.
The governor’s heavy investment in school board races across the state was a continued escalation of his assaults on students, educators, and families. Fueled by government censorship legislation like the Stop WOKE Act and Don’t Say LGBTQ, DeSantis’ agenda of banning books, censoring speech, propagandizing history, and trafficking in bigotry to score political points will now be promulgated by his hand-picked extremists on school boards across Florida. They become the latest government entities dismantled, stacked with DeSantis acolytes, and weaponized against Floridians, joining the Department of Health, Board of Medicine, Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Education, and Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
Stay tuned for the full list of results for Equality Florida Action PAC endorsed candidates.
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. Through education, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and lobbying, we are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.