Gay groups split over picks in Atlanta races

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Two gay political groups firmed up their lists of endorsed candidates for the July 31 primary, but Georgia Equality and Atlanta Stonewall Democrats passed over LGBT incumbents and gay challengers.

Georgia Equality, stuck with a big gay political pickle with its endorsements, skipped the heated Democratic primary in District 57. That race pits two incumbent state lawmakers – Rep. Rashad Taylor, who is gay, and longtime LGBT ally Rep. Part Gardner. Stonewall endorsed Gardner.

But Stonewall took a pass on endorsing Rep. Keisha Waites (photo), an LGBT lawmaker who won the District 60 office in a special election earlier this year. She faces four opponents in the Democratic primary. They also didn’t endorse Rep. Karla Drenner, the dean of Georgia’s openly gay lawmakers running for re-election in District 85. Georgia Equality endorsed Waites and Drenner.

Thanks to Republican-led redistricting last year, some LGBT incumbents were pitted against gay-friendly lawmakers. That happened in the District 57 race and in District 58, which put Rep. Simone Bell, a lesbian, against gay-friendly Rep. Ralph Long. Georgia Equality has already backed Bell, which prompted an outburst of criticism from Long. Stonewall also backed Bell.

In District 59, Georgia Equality passed over gay challenger William Phelps and endorsed gay-friendly incumbent Rep. Margaret Kaiser. Stonewall did not issue an endorsement in that race.

“The gerrymandering by the Republicans in the General Assembly of in-town districts has forced upon us the unpleasant task of sometimes choosing between excellent people for the same seat,” Stonewall says in a statement released on Friday. “These are choices we would rather not make.”

Both groups also endorsed Ken Britt, a gay man and longtime politico who is running for the open District 56 seat against former Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas. The two groups endorsed lesbian attorney Jane Morrison in her bid for Fulton County State Court.

But Stonewall and Georgia Equality did not issue an endorsement in District 101, a Gwinnett race that includes gay candidate Tim Swiney. The groups also ignored the state Senate race in District 47 that includes Tim Riley, a gay man who has run for political office in the past. Neither man faces a challenger in the Democratic primary this month.

Candidates endorsed by Georgia Equality:

Democratic Primary
HD 39 – Alisha Thomas Morgan
HD 41 – Justin O’Dell
HD 53 – Sheila Jones
HD 56 – Ken Britt
HD 58 – Simone Bell
HD 59 – Margaret Kaiser
HD 60 – Keisha Waites
HD 85 – Karla Drenner
HD 62 – Marvin Arrington, Jr
HD 63 – TJ Copeland
HD 76 – Sandra Scott
HD 93 – Dar’shun Kendrick
HD 105 – Renita Hamilton
HD 113 – Pam Dickerson
HD 118 – Spencer Frye
HD 139 – Michael Dinkins

SD 44 – Gail Buckner

Republican Primary
HD 97 – Robert McClure

Non-Partisan Races
Fulton County State Court – Jane Morrison
Fulton County Superior Court – Clarence Johnson
Fulton County Solicitor – Teri Walker
DeKalb State Court – Dax Lopez
Ogeechee Circuit District Attorney – Richard Mallard
Rockdale Superior Court – Gary Washington

Candidates endorsed by Atlanta Stonewall Democrats:

Judicial Endorsements:
ENDORSED -Clarence Johnson Fulton Superior Court
ENDORSED-Jane Morrison State Court Fulton County

House Districts:
ENDORSED-Alisha Thomas Morgan HD#39
ENDORSED-Diana Eckels HD#41
ENDORSED-Ken Britt HD#56
ENDORSED- Pat Gardner HD#57
ENDORSED-Simone Bell HD#58
ENDORSED- Marvin Arrington Jr. HD #62
ENDORSED-TJ Copeland HD#63
ENDORSED-Doreen Williams HD#92
ENDORSED-Dar’shun Kendrick HD#93
ENDORSED-Jaye Lynn Peabody HD#94


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