In the primary, there were six Democratic LGBT candidates running, including Sims, Fatimah Lorén Muhammad, Roy Christ, Chris Dietz, Kelly McEntee and Jeff Dahlander.
Muhammad lost her attempt to unseat incumbent James Roebuck in the 188th District, while Roy Christ came in a close second among four Democratic candidates in the open 103rd District. The other three, Dietz (104th Dist.), McEntee (105th Dist.) and Dahlander (111th Dist.), all ran unopposed in the primary and will face Republican incumbents in the fall.
Sims has a formidable task ahead of him. Whether it’s fair expectation or not, he will by default represent all LGBTs in the state to both his fellow representatives and voters. He’ll also have to take the place of a longtime incumbent elected in 1985 — the most senior woman in the Pennsylvania House, in a state that hasn’t ranked well in electing women to office. (In the last session, 32 state representatives out of 203 were women, about 16 percent. In the state Senate, 11 out of 50 senators are women, 22 percent.)
Certainly, LGBT voters will expect him to champion their causes, but he’ll also need to fight hard for women’s and progressive causes — to honor and continue the groundbreaking Josephs’ work.
If Sims has any mandate, it is that he needs to make good on his promise to work with the Republicans in the House to introduce and pass good legislation and prevent bad legislation from being enacted — bad for the LGBTs, bad for women’s rights.
By the time Sims gets to Harrisburg next year (assuming he wins the heavily Democratic district in November’s general election), he’ll likely need to get to work on passing a statewide non-discrimination bill, stat. Bills for civil unions and/or marriage can be further down on the priority list.
If nothing else, Sims’ election will mean those legislators who claim they don’t know any gay people will be forced to interact with someone who is openly gay.
One disappointing outcome of Tuesday’s primary for LGBTs was that ally Patrick Murphy, who spearheaded efforts to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” when he was in Congress, lost his race with Kathleen Kane as the Democratic candidate for Attorney General. As a Democrat hasn’t held that seat since it became an elected position, she has an uphill battle.