Your 2016 LGBT Georgia local, county, legislative and statewide race roundup

U.S. Senate

Democratic newcomer Jim Barksdale has been polling around 10 to 15 points lower than his incumbent Republican opponent Sen. Johnny Isakson. But Isakson needs to break 50 percent plus 1 vote to avoid a runoff, and an Oct. 20 AJC poll shows him at 47 percent (Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley was pulling 11 percent in the same poll). Also take into account disaffected anti-Trump Republicans staying home on November 8, therefore having an impact on this and other down-ballot races.. A runoff would drag out the race all the way to Jan. 10.

Bob Gibeling (File photo)
Bob Gibeling (File photo)

House District 54

Openly gay candidate Bob Gibeling, treasurer of the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Georgia, has an uphill battle to fight against incumbent Republican Rep. Beth Beskin. If he’s able to pull out a win, he would become the first openly gay male to be elected to the Georgia legislature—Rashad Taylor was outed while in office and did not win reelection. Beskin is beating Gibeling tenfold in the money race, and there was a noticeable non-endorsement from Georgia Equality in this race. HD54 includes Buckhead and West Midtown.

House District 58

Openly queer state Rep. Park Cannon can rest easy in HD58, which includes southwest Atlanta, downtown and Midtown. She beat former state Rep. Ralph Long in a special election runoff in February to replace Simone Bell, who resigned last November. Cannon had no challengers in the May primary nor has any challengers in November’s general election. Meanwhile, she’s been busy campaigning hard for Hillary Clinton.

House District 60

Lesbian state Rep. Keisha Waites technically has opposition in this district covering southeast Atlanta, Hapeville and parts of Clayton and Dekalb counties. But she is expected to land a third straight term in office when she faces off against Republican truck driver Ralph Nobles in November. For what it’s worth, Waites had raised $4,300 and had $2,200 on hand as of Sept. 30, while Nobles had raised less than $100 and had spent as much.

House District 80

Now this is the one to watch. Rep. Taylor Bennett made his opposition to anti-LGBT so-called “religious freedom” legislation the centerpiece of his successful campaign in last year’s election for this Republican-leaning Brookhaven district. It was personal to him, seeing as his mother is gay. Bennett had raised around $125,000 as of Sept. 30, with his Republican challenger Meagan Hanson raising roughly the same. We’ll have a separate story up shortly diving into this race.

Taylor Bennett (File photo)
Taylor Bennett (File photo)

House District 85

Lesbian state Rep. Karla Drenner isn’t going anywhere. She faced no opposition in the May primary and has no opposition in the general and will be elected to her eighth term in office come November. HD85 includes Avondale Estates, Clarkston, Decatur and parts of Belvedere Park and Candler-McAfee.

House District 101

One more LGBT candidate is in the running this November. Attorney Sam Park joins Bob Gibeling as the two openly LGBT males running for the state legislature, and either of them would make history by pulling out a win. Park, a Democrat, is running against incumbent state Rep. Valerie Clark, who has tripled him in the money race as of a Sept. 30 filing. Clark was first elected to the seat in 2010, beating out Democrat Lee Thompson by eight points. She won reelection in 2012 by beating openly gay Democrat Timothy Swiney (who ran as a Republican in the previous race) by 13 points. She was unopposed in 2014. HD 101 includes Lawrenceville and Suwanee.

2016 Election Key Dates

Early Voting Started: Oct. 17, 2016

Early Voting Ends: Nov. 4, 2016

Election Day: Nov. 8, 2016

Check your polling location and view a sample ballot at

LGBT Organizations Endorsement Roundup

Listed are candidates endorsed by Georgia Equality (GE), Georgia Stonewall Democrats (GSD), Victory Fund (VF), and/or Georgia Log Cabin Republicans (GLCR). Note: Georgia Equality does not endorse in races where there is no opposition (which is the case with LGBT incumbents Park Cannon and Karla Drenner). And Georgia Stonewall Democrats does not endorse candidates who do not apply for one. Asterisk denotes an openly LGBT candidate.

State House

District 11: Brandon Crisp (GE)

District 22: Oscar Hajloo (GE)

District 30: Michelle Jones (GE, GSD)

District 38: David Wilkerson (GSD)

District 40: Erick Allen (GE, GSD)

District 42: Stacey Evans (GE, GSD)

District 53: Sheila Jones (GSD)

District 54: *Bob Gibeling (GSD), Beth Beskin (GLCR)

District 56: Able Mable Thomas (GSD)

District 57: Pat Gardner (GSD)

District 58: *Park Cannon (GSD, VF)

District 59: David Dreyer (GSD)

District 60: *Keisha Waites (GE, GSD)

District 64: Derrick Jackson (GSD)

District 76: Sandra Scott (GSD)

District 80: Taylor Bennett (GE, GSD)

District 81: Scott Holcomb (GE)

District 82: Mary Margaret Oliver (GSD)

District 84: Renitta Shannon (GSD)

District 85: *Karla Drenner (GSD, VF)

District 86: Michele Henson (GSD)

District 88: Billy Mitchell (GSD)

District 93: Dar’shun Kendrick (GSD)

District 96: Pedro Marin (GE, GSD)

District 99: Brenda Lopez (GSD)

District 101: *Sam Park (GE, GSD)

District 105: Donna McLeod (GE)

District 108: Tokhir Radjabov (GE)

District 113: Pam Dickerson (GSD)

District 111: Darryl Payton (GE)

District 118: Spencer Frye (GSD)

District 145: Floyd Griffin (GE)

District 160: James Woodall (GE)

State Senate

District 5: Curt Thompson (GSD)

District 6: Jaha Howard (GE)

District 22: Harold Jones (GSD)

District 36: Nan Orrock (GSD)

District 38: Horacena Tate (GE, GSD)

District 39: Vincent Fort (GSD)

District 42: Elena Parent (GE, GSD)

District 44: Gail Davenport (GSD)

District 55: Gloria Butler (GE)

District 56: Patrick Thompson (GE, GSD)

Local and County Elections

Dekalb County Commission, District 7: George Chidi (GE)
Dekalb County District Attorney: Sherry Boston (GSD)
Dekalb County Solicitor General: Donna Coleman-Stribling (GSD)
Fulton County Commission, District 4: *Joan Garner (VF)
Fulton County Solicitor: Keith Gammage (GSD)
Henry County Commission, Chair: Carlotta Harrell (GE)
Towns County Sheriff: *Linda Curtis (VF)