When voters go to the polls today to vote in a special election for State Senate District 42, their choices will include one candidate who is endorsed by the state’s largest gay political group, two candidates who say they also wanted the group’s endorsement, and one candidate who is openly gay.
The DeKalb-based seat was left open when former Sen. David Adelman was appointed ambassador to Singapore. The winner will fill the remainder of Adelman’s term, which, like all seats in the Georgia General Assembly, is up for election this year.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Candidates for the seat include Democrats Jason Carter and Tom Stubbs, independent Steve Patrick and Libertarian David Montane.
Patrick is openly gay, according to his campaign website and an email he sent to the Georgia Voice.
A Mississippi native, Patrick has lived in Dekalb for 22 years, according to his website. He serves as vice president of real estate investment firm Blue Ridge Capital, and has been active in a variety of neighborhood organizations.
“Steve and his partner of 30 years, Curtis, are proud to call LaVista Park; District 42; and DeKalb County ‘home’!” his website states.
“As a community leader, I have worked with my neighbors to make a difference; in business I have helped hundreds of small business owners achieve their goals,” Patrick says. “As your next state senator, I will listen, respond, and take action on behalf of the citizens in District 42.”
Georgia Equality, the state’s largest gay political group, has endorsed Jason Carter in the race.
Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, is an attorney at Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore. In 2006, he co-founded Democrats Work, a national volunteer organization for Georgia residents wanting to work on community service projects. He also founded Red Clay Democrats in 2002 for young professionals.
“I’m really excited and honored by the endorsement. LGBT issues are important to this district and important to me,” Carter told the Georgia Voice.
“The most important thing for the LGBT community, and everyone else, is to seek out new coalitions for building broad support,” he added.
The only candidates seeking Georgia Equality’s endorsement were Stubbs and Carter, said GE Executive Director Jeff Graham.
Graham said Carter was selected because he not only actively sought support from the LGBT community, but also is conducting serious outreach programs to the LGBT community in his campaign.
But Montane said he also reached out to Georgia Equality seeking the group’s endorsement, and was told to look for the group’s endorsement survey, which he never received.
“In January, as soon as I announced my candidacy, I made gay equality one of the top three issues in my campaign. I have spoken out consistently on behalf of gay equality at my campaign announcement gathering, printed on my promotional literature, in my speeches, and on my website, www.windavid.com,” Montane told the Georgia Voice.
Montane, a Libertarian, said he would support a state employment non-discrimination law that included sexual orientation and gender identity, and he thinks any potential hate crime law should include those categories. He also expressed support for allowing gay couples to marry.
“While I don’t think the state should ever have started licensing marriages, since they do, everyone should have an equal opportunity, regardless of gender preference,” he said.
Stubbs, the other Democrat in the race along with Carter, is an attorney in private practice in Decatur and a longtime resident and community volunteer in the district. He told Georgia Voice he was disappointed Carter received the Georgia Equality endorsement, but that if he won he would be “right back at Jeff’s door asking what can I carry for you.”
Stubbs ran an unsuccessful campaign for Dekalb County Superior Court Judge in 2008 and also ran for Decatur City Commission in 1999, when he lost to Kecia Cunningham. Cunningham, who was the first openly gay African-American elected official in Georgia, still holds that seat and has endorsed Carter.
Stubbs added he has a long history of supporting LGBT equality, including being a member of the Atlanta Stonewall Democrats and Lambda Legal.
Whatever the outcome of today’s vote, the candidates appear headed for a rematch. Both Stubbs and Carter qualified to run for a full term representing Senate District 42.
Independent candidates did not have to qualify during the April 26-30 window, and Patrick said on his website that he intends to run again as well. Montane told the Georgia Voice that if he wins today, he would seek election to a full term.
Party primaries are set for July 20 and the general election will be Nov. 2.
— Dyana Bagby contributed.