Political Insider

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A rough round of runoffs for LGBT candidates

A trio of LGBT candidates was defeated in a round of Tuesday runoff elections that reshaped metro Atlanta’s political landscape.

City Council president candidate Alex Wan was bested by Felicia Moore, leaving the council without an openly gay member for the first time in about two decades.

Fulton County Commission chair contender Keisha Waites was soundly defeated in her contest.  And De’Andre Pickett, who was vying to be the fifth LGBT member of the Georgia House, also lost his bid for public office.

Some metro Atlanta LGBT leaders hoped Tuesday would be a defining moment for the community. There were at least 16 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates on the ballots in November’s vote, a collection of city and special elections. Only a handful won office.

Still, some say the community’s role has increased so much that some LGBT leaders say it might have reached a turning point.

Charlie Stadtlander said that a few years ago, gay candidates often made their sexual orientation a centerpiece of their campaign — and gay voters sometimes made it a defining factor behind their vote.

Now, he said, “being gay is no longer a litmus test for who we vote for.”

Case in point: In his unsuccessful November bid to become one of the first openly gay members on Atlanta’s school board, he noted with a chuckle, his opponents’ financial disclosures were dotted with LGBT couples.

“Gay candidates are getting looked at on their merits. And when you look at these candidates on their merits, you discover they’re mostly awesome candidates that just happen to be gay,” he said. “It’s becoming more of a nonissue, and gay voters feel more comfortable crossing over and voting for a straight candidate.”

Keep reading: Metro Atlanta’s LGBT voters flex muscle, see power grow in new ways

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.