Thursday, October 18, 2018

Local media gear up for midterm elections

by Joe Siegel

LGBT media have been busy providing coverage for the upcoming midterm elections, which features many contested races at the local, state, and federal levels. As part of coverage, many LGBT candidates are being spotlighted by various publications.

The Washington Blade went a little bit further, publishing a column by Earl Fowlkes, Democratic National Committee LGBTQ Caucus Chair, who urged LGBT Americans to get out and vote for Democrats, especially ones who are LGBT.

DNC's Earl Fowlkes, author of
column in Washington Blade
“There is good reason to be optimistic about the fight for full equality, but today our hard-earned progress faces a serious threat from President Trump and his anti-LGBTQ agenda,” Fowlkes wrote. “Cast a vote for an LGBTQ candidate and our Democratic allies this November so they can continue to fight for our rights. We deserve elected officials who represent the diversity of the American people and have our interests at heart. Electing lesbian, gay, bi and trans folks up and down the ballot is a big step in the right direction.”

San Francisco-based Bay Area Reporter has taken a more subdued approach.

“We are in one of the bluest regions of the bluest state in the country, so locally we have not been covering congressional races much,” explained news editor Cynthia Laird. “I do plan to run a national story right after the election that will look at how the various LGBT candidates did in other states, whether Dems were able to take back the House and Senate.” 

Currently, Laird said, her paper’s election coverage is focused on local races in San Francisco, Oakland, and other parts of the Bay Area.” There are a number of out candidates running for local offices, such as city council and school board, and we have been following them all year, and will have follow-up stories post Nov. 6,” she said.

In South Florida, coverage issues are different. “For the most part we don’t endorse local candidates because our geographical area is just too large to effectively, or efficiently, research all of the various races between West Palm Beach and Key West,” explained Jason Parsley, executive editor of South Florida Gay News. “Sometimes we do endorsements of statewide races like the gubernatorial or senate race. But so far we haven’t endorsed anybody this cycle.”

SFGN will be listing the endorsements from the three largest LGBT rights groups in Florida.

“Since we are based in Wilton Manors, one of the gayest cities in the United States, we will do some local coverage of those races,” Parsley noted. “One candidate that stands out here is Lauren Baer, who is running for the House against Brian Mast, the incumbent Republican. She’s openly gay and married, which would be a first if elected. A lot of LGBT activists are excited about her candidacy.”

Dallas Voice has not endorsed any candidates. Managing Editor Tammye Nash said the publication has endorsed only one candidate ever, and that was Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential bid.

Instead, Dallas Voice has been focusing on LGBT candidates on the ballot in Texas since before the start of the year.

“We actually had two openly LGBT candidates - former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and bar owner/businessman Jeffrey Payne - on the ballot for governor in the Democratic Primary,” said Nash. “Lupe won the nomination in a runoff with Andrew White, son of former Democratic Gov. Mark White. And we have openly LGBT candidates on the November ballot at all levels, including several well-known folks in the North Texas community besides Lupe. Lorie Burch is running for Congress.”

Nash said one particular contest is getting a lot of attention, for obvious reasons.

“We are covering the Beto O’Rourke/Ted Cruz race for the U.S. Senate, of course, because that race has such big implications for our community and the whole country,” added Nash. “And we are keeping up with important races, especially with LGBT candidates, around the country. But our main focus has been first on local LGBT candidates and then LGBT candidates around the state.”

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