Why the LGBTQ Community Rejected Brian Sims for Lieutenant Governor | Marc Segal

By Marc Segal

First the good news: all of the incumbents for the Democratic State Committee have won their primary elections. They all worked in their neighborhoods, became part of their districts, did the work over a long period of time, and were rewarded by the community for it. Congratulations to Micah Mahjoubian, Rick Lombardo, John Brady and Mariel Martin.

Next is the race for the U.S. Senate, where for our purposes we will focus on the race through the lens of statewide candidate Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, against what was the giant figure of current Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.

At the state level, Fetterman was a juggernaut, winning more than 59 percent of the vote. But Kenyatta did better than the polls suggested and, more importantly, in Philadelphia he came in second and nearly beat Fetterman. It’s incredible. And that bodes well for Kenyatta’s future in political office.

In the race for lieutenant governor, the other contender for statewide office, Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, resoundingly lost to fellow state Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny.

This came as no surprise, as a majority of the Democratic state legislature, a majority of Pennsylvania elected officials and a long list of LGBTQ activists in the state have endorsed Davis.

Waxman wins Democratic primary for Philadelphia’s 182nd District seat

The reasons why so many people endorsed Davis over Sims have been detailed in this column and others. Sims was a poor candidate from the start due to a lot of past baggage and controversy. And he hasn’t learned from his past and tried to improve on it this election season; he just continued his bullying and deceptive tactics, most recently in one of his TV ads which misleadingly implied he was endorsed by gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro.

In the end, Sims was down 25 points statewide, his Philadelphia base by about 15 points, and even the neighborhoods that make up the gay district. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and the Gayborhood all rejected the Sims and united behind Austin Davis.

Then there’s the state representative race in the 182nd District, which includes the Gayborhood. The most liberal district in the state had two candidates, Deja Alvarez and Jonathan Lovitz.

State Representative Austin Davis wins the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor.

The two lost by a wide margin to longtime LGBTQ ally Ben Waxman. Out of four contestants, Lovitz came in third and Alvarez came in fourth. The biggest misconception about this race is that some believe the LGBTQ community is a bigger part of the district than it actually is. We’ve always said LGBTQ voters in the 182nd District are between 5% and 10%, which means they can affect an outcome but can’t decide it on their own. It also didn’t help that the two LGBTQ candidates were vying for a similar group of voters.

But the 182nd District race was also representative and affected by a battle within our own community of gender and classism. And that battle was highlighted the day before the election by Deja Alvarez, who made a campaign call and said of his opponents in the race: “Wealth, access and resources are easier for those who match to the mold – usually, white cis men of a certain background”.

The last part of that, “from a certain background” has a whole host of connotations, but the first thing that came to mind was that his three opponents were Jewish. Coming at the very end of a campaign, this email unfortunately split. It was a last-ditch effort to raise a few dollars, but it didn’t make up for a poorly run campaign.

The Liberty City LGBTQ Democratic Club was the only state LGBTQ organization to endorse Sims and Alvarez, who was Sims’ hand-picked replacement for his seat.

Both were defeated hands down. While personal endorsements may reflect the opinions of a single person, an organization trying to build itself and be taken seriously as a political force needs to be more in touch with the community it represents.

Both of these mentions show that Liberty City was out of touch with the broader LGBTQ community during this election. They got caught up in issues, including the splits I explained above. But Liberty City is an important part of the LGBTQ community, and we need to support them as they rebuild.

That won’t happen until the war within our community begins to change, when the majority finally gets tired of being rescued by a small group of biased, politically correct people trying to intimidate them.

Mark Segal is the founder and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, an editorial partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this column first appeared.

Comments are closed.