Gay Atlanta incumbents fared better than LGBT challengers on Tuesday. Three lesbian lawmakers are headed back to the Gold Dome while a gay challenger, locked in a nasty primary campaign, lost his race.
State Rep. Simone Bell (top photo), the only one of three gay state lawmakers facing primary opposition, easily put down a challenge from Erica Long, the husband of the opponent she defeated in 2012. Bell took 63.22 percent of the vote to Long's 36.78 percent. With no Republican in the November race, Bell will keep her District 58 seat.
Bell thanked her supporters late Tuesday.
District 58, family and friends - THANK YOU for sending me back to the Capitol! I LOVE my job and I get to keep it! Let's go! LOVE.
State Rep. Karla Drenner, the first openly gay lawmaker in Georgia history, will keep her District 85 seat. She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and faces no GOP opposition in November. The same goes for lesbian state Rep. Keisha Waites in District 60.
But in the closely watched race for the state Senate District 42 seat, Kyle Williams' historic bid fell short. He lost to former state Rep. Elena Parent, 65.67 percent to 34.3 percent. Williams (top photo) would have become Georgia's first openly gay state senator.
The race turned into an expensive, bitter campaign with Parent turning to anti-gay mailers and not-so-subtle homophobic marketing efforts. LGBT critics blasted her tactics in the closing days of the campaign.
Late Tuesday, Williams thanked his supporters.
My friends, it appears we have come up short. We have worked hard, we have worked true. We ran a campaign that you can be proud of. Thank you to all of my friends who believed in me and this campaign from the very beginning and worked for the future of District 42. Political discussions and debate are essential to a vibrant community, and I congratulate Elena Parent on a hard-fought campaign. This is my home and I look forward to working with all of you to continue to make our community a better place.
Futon County Commissioner Joan Garner, who became the commission's first-ever openly gay member when she won election in 2010, coasted to another term on Tuesday. She dispatched Eddie Brewster, 70.71 percent to 29.39 percent.
Also in Fulton, gay challenger De'Andre Pickett placed second in the District 6 race for the Fulton County Board of Education, losing to incumbent Catherine Maddox 57.80 percent to 30.33 percent. In 2013, Pickett lost a race for the East Point City Council.
But on Tuesday, election watch parties made the slow trickle of vote totals bearable (and fun). LGBT politicos and supporters gathered at gay-owned Radial Cafe for a bipartisan watch party organized by Georgia Equality, Georgia Stonewall Democrats, Georgia Log Cabin Republicans, Human Rights Campaign and Victory Fund. Candidates stopped by – including Bell, Williams and Bob Gibeling, a Democrat running in November for the state House District 54 seat – cocktails were consumed and tasty treats were devoured.
Enjoy some outtakes from the election night party:
It's all about the people.
And the candidates.
But mostly, the cocktails.
There were stickers, too.
Reporting results went high tech.
Results always go best when paired with wine.
There were smiles.
Among the candidates, too.
There were announcements.
Even some speechifying.
But mostly, a long wait for results.
And more cocktails.