LGBT candidate wins House race, faces runoff

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First-time queer candidate Park Cannon won a special election on Tuesday to replace the LGBT state representative who stepped aside, but her margin of victory wasn't enough to avoid a runoff.

So Cannon will face former state Rep. Ralph Long in a Feb. 16 runoff for the District 58 seat, meaning the seat remains vacant as lawmakers consider a trio of anti-gay bills during the ongoing legislative session.

Just a handful of votes could have made a difference on Tuesday. A total of 834 votes were cast, with Cannon winning 395 (47.36%), Long taking 281 (33.69%) and Kwame Thompson receiving 158 (18.94%). Cannon needed 50% plus one vote – 23 more votes than she received – to win the election outright.

Late Tuesday, Park celebrated the results:

Bam! You all are AMAZING! Let's go finish up some business in the runoff! Tonight, we celebrate!

Park raised the most cash in the race and received endorsements from three LGBT groups – Georgia Equality, Georgia Stonewall Democrats PAC and the Victory Fund. Atlanta Progressive News also endorsed her. District 58 stretches from Midtown to Turner Field to East Point and includes portions of DeKalb County

Long lost a heated primary for the District 58 seat in 2012 against state Rep. Simone Bell, who was the first African-American lesbian elected to a state legislature in the U.S. In 2014, Bell defeated Long's wife, Erica, for another term in the House. Bell resigned in November to take a job with Lambda Legal's office in Atlanta.

Cannon is one of at least six LGBT candidates running for the Georgia House this year.

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