The country’s only lesbian-backed political action committee, LPAC, will unveil a first wave of political endorsements Thursday -- including five openly gay candidates seeking congressional seats and state offices ranging from governor to attorney general.
The endorsement list includes 15 Democrats so far. Among them: gubernatorial hopefuls Wendy Davis of Texas, Heather Mizeur of Maryland, Martha Coakley of Massachusetts and Pat Quinn, the Illinois incumbent who is facing a tough reelection fight this year.
The announcement, including a $1 million fundraising goal for 2014, will be made by the incoming board chair of the organization, Laura Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, the first openly gay woman owner of a major league baseball franchise. She is the daughter of Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade who launched Ending Spending, a group that backs fiscally conservative candidates from both parties. Her brother, Pete, this week won the Republican nomination for governor of Nebraska. Another brother, Todd, is the current CEO of Ending Spending. The family loves and respects one another, Laura Ricketts says, but she is not expecting sibling or parental financial support for her venture.
She is, however, hopeful that her group will one day find GOP candidates to support.
“I would love it if we could endorse Republican candidates as well,” she said. “Our intention is to be bi-partisan,” backing candidates “who meet our values and goals,” which include ending discriminatory treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and their families. For now, she hopes to see many small-dollar contributors coming to LPAC from across the country with a goal of raising $1 million in 2014 on top of the $1.2 million raised since the organization was founded two years ago. Back then, it supported, among others, the country’s first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
“My hope is that we will inspire more lesbians to get politically engaged,” Ricketts said. “For too long, lesbian women have been left out of politics. Our goal is to give lesbians a real and meaningful voice in politics and then to influence the political landscape.”
Ricketts, who previously served as a member of the Democratic National Committee Finance Committee and chaired its LGBT leadership panel, will announce that the organization will take a stand against a Tennessee constitutional ballot initiative that LPAC says will repeal reproductive rights protections.
The list of endorsements expected Friday includes the following Democratic candidates for Congress: incumbent Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Sean Eldridge, candidate for New York’s 19th congressional district, Gwen Graham, candidate for Florida’s second district, and Amanda Renteria who is running for California’s 21st congressional district seat.