LGBT history was not made in Georgia on Tuesday. Kyle Williams, who was seeking to become the first openly gay man elected to the Georgia Senate, and the General Assembly, conceded the election for state Senate District 42 to Elena Parent late Tuesday, bringing an end to what turned into a bitter campaign in its final days. Parent will now move on to the general election in November and face Republican Greg Williams. Because District 42 is considered one of the most progressive districts in the state, Parent is expected to defeat Williams.
“My friends, it appears we have come up short,” Williams said in a statement just released. “We have worked hard, we have worked true. We ran a campaign that you can be proud of. Thank you to all of my friends who believed in me and this campaign from the very beginning and worked for the future of District 42. Political discussions and debate are essential to a vibrant community, and I congratulate Elena Parent on a hard-fought campaign. This is my home and I look forward to working with all of you to continue to make our community a better place.”
The last count available by the Georgia Secretary of State’s website had Parent at 65 percent with 3,527 votes and Williams at 35 percent with 1,844 votes.
Elena Parent released a statement shortly after midnight.
“Kyle Williams is my friend. He has a bright future ahead of him in Georgia politics. We have a lot of work ahead of us and we need his help. I am committed to working with Kyle and the entire LGBT community to promote equality, end discrimination, and to fight for our progressive values,” said Parent.
Williams’ supporters stayed late into the evening at Universal Joint in Oakhurst Village, where his team—including campaign manager Beth Cope, director of field operations Tim Cairl and Victory Fund deputy political director Ian Sugar—huddled around a table checking election results all night, before finally agreeing to concede just before midnight.
It was a highly controversial fight for the state Senate seat in District 42, which covers Decatur, Avondale Estates and portions of DeKalb County including neighborhoods from Buford Highway to DeKalb Avenue such as North Druid Hills, Morningside, Druid Hills, East Lake, Kirkwood and Edgewood. The race ended up being less about the issues, and more about who could prove whom was more progressive, and in the final days allegations of anti-gay attacks by the Parent camp muddied the waters. Parent denied any anti-gay campaigning.
“We worked until the bitter end. We worked to identify our voters, get our voters out. I’m proud of the campaign. We ran a hell of a campaign that was based on what this district needs, what this district deserves and the issues that face this district. I’m proud of it. I’m at peace,” Williams told GA Voice earlier in the night while he was waiting on the results.
“It’s disappointing we can’t have a conversation on the issues. The district deserves better than that. The voters deserve better than that. Progressives, liberals, the LGBT community deserves better than that. This is not the campaign that we would have run, this is not the campaign that we wanted to have to respond to, but we met it and we responded to it and I am OK and proud of what we did,” he added.