The 2018 primary election cycle in Maryland has ended and was a year of many firsts, and milestones for the LGBT community. This year 14 openly LGBT candidates ran as Democrats for governor, lieutenant governor, state senator and state delegate in ten legislative districts across the state, in Baltimore City as well as Anne Arundel, Montgomery, and Prince Georges counties. One transgender candidate ran for US Senate, and many more candidates ran for local offices in those counties as well as Frederick and St. Mary’s counties. Baltimore OUTloud is unaware of any openly LGBT candidates who stood in the Republican primaries.

While Baltimore OUTloud has been unable to locate data on the number of candidates standing for public office during each past election cycle in Maryland, the overall number of candidates winning their primary bid for public office has not substantially changed.

The only LGBT candidate to stand for the US Senate from Maryland was Chelsea Manning, who came in second with over 32,000 votes out of a field of eight Democrats.

Previously the total LGBT delegation to Annapolis included one state senator and five state delegates, and those numbers remain unchanged, though the people holding those offices and their location has. Previously the delegation included one state senator and two delegates from Montgomery County, and three delegates from Baltimore City. It now includes one state senator and two delegates from Baltimore City, and three delegates from Baltimore County.

As tends to happen in Maryland elections, the odds favored the incumbents. All the LGBT incumbents running for Public Office won their races with only one non-incumbent claiming a seat in the House of Delegates.

In the bid for the Democratic Party nomination for governor, Rich Madaleno – who served from District 18 as the only openly gay member of the Maryland State Senate – was unsuccessful in his bid to become the state’s first openly gay governor. Julie C. Verratti ran for lieutenant governor on an unsuccessful ticket for the Democratic Party nomination with Alec Ross.

In Baltimore City, Delegate Mary Washington won her bid to unseat long-time Senator Joan Carter Conway in the 43rd district. As there was no Republican challenger, Washington will become the first openly lesbian state senator in Maryland.

Also in the 43rd district, Delegate Maggie McIntosh had no trouble maintaining her seat, and as she also had no Republican challengers, she is guaranteed election in November. In addition, Delegate Luke Clippinger held onto his seat in Baltimore City’s 46th district. Since Clippinger received nine times the votes of any of the Republican contenders for delegate in that district, his re-election bid is also likely certain.

Montgomery County saw an abundance of LGBT candidates seek public office in 2018. Incumbent Delegates Bonnie Cullison from district 19 and Anne Kaiser from district 14 both picked up the highest percentage of votes in their respective districts for nomination for re-election in November.

This years only new successful candidate, Gabriel Acevero, hails from Montgomery County’s 39th district. Since there is only one Republican candidate running for three seats, and Acevero received over three times as many votes as that challenger, he stands a good chance of election to the House of Delegates in November, which would make him the first openly gay Afro-Latino man to be elected to the Maryland General Assembly.

Dr. Dana Beyer ran for the vacant district 18 senate seat left by Rick Madaleno following his bid for governor. Dr. Beyer ran against Rich Madaleno in 2014, making her the first transgender person in Maryland to run for public office. In Maryland, current delegates have almost always prevailed in elections for vacant senate seats, and for Beyer this year was no different, as her challenger was a current delegate, making her bid an uphill challenge she was unable to overcome.

Also in Montgomery County, Mila Johns in district 18, Kevin Mack in district 15, and George Zoke in district 20 were unsuccessful in their bids to become state delegates.

In Anne Arundel County, Patrick Armstrong’s bid for delegate for district 32 was unsuccessful. Ashanti Martinez from Prince Georges County shared the same fate in her district 22 bid.

In Frederick County, Liz Barrett secured a spot in November in her non-partisan re-election bid to the county’s Board of Education.

LGBT candidates across the state ran for official office to become members of the local Democratic Central Committees for their district. These committees promote the party’s interests and candidates over those of opposing parties and candidates, and are opportunities for individuals interested in politics to learn about the party, its work, and to influence the party at the local level.

The most notable winner of election to a local Democratic Party Central Committee is of LGBT activist Sharon Brackett, who won her first term of office in district 46 in Baltimore City by a handy margin, placing third out of 15 to fill seven open seats. Sharon has the distinction of becoming the first transgender person to be elected in any contested race for public office in Maryland.

In St. Mary’s County’s district 29 – a very conservative part of the state – Laura Hart, another transgender person, secured a position on that Democratic Central Committee in an uncontested election, making her, together with Brackett, the first transgender people in Maryland to hold any office in the state.

“In a year when established politicians were defeated statewide, we’re lucky to see the Maryland General Assembly retain the same number of gay and lesbian officials it had previously,” said Brian Gaither, an LGBT activist and co-founder of the Maryland LGBT Political Action Committee. The Maryland LBGT PAC focuses on helping non-incumbents win office, to expand the overall number of LGBT officeholders in Maryland. They will be working on the back end of this election to see who will want to run again, who can be recruited, and what races at the local level, strategically speaking, are worth getting involved in. “However,” Gaither continued, “we will need to be more diligent in holding them accountable for advancing the community’s interests and protecting us against the actions of the Trump administration.”

If you openly identify as LGBT and ran for office during this primary election, and were not recognized in this article, please contact bredmondpalmer@baltimoreoutloud.com.

Sharon Brackett won her first term of office in Baltimore’s district 46 – the first transgender person to be elected in any contested race in Maryland.

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