Rep. Brian Sims to run for Lt. Governor

State Rep. Brian Sims.

“We are the antidote to broken politics.”

With those words, State Rep. Brian Sims announced that he is running for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. Sims made the announcement in a video posted on Twitter Feb. 15 and shared on YouTube. A member of the state legislature from Philadelphia, Sims was the first openly gay elected state legislator in Pennsylvania history. Sims is now the first openly gay person to run for executive office in Pennsylvania.

The video, which has garnered 369,000 views on Twitter, began with a photo of Sims speaking at the LOVE statue in Love Park. The video included scenes from Black Lives Matter protests this past summer, as well as photos of Sims with his parents and siblings, photos of his State Assembly pin and other images from Sims’ life as a member of the legislature.

Sims said, “After 10 years in the State House, I’ve taken the lessons that my parents taught me and reinforced them in my work as a legislator: to take responsibility, commit to service, be courageous, and push for fairness.”

He added, “I’m ready to take these values to lead the Commonwealth” and ended saying he wants to bring “bold, visionary leadership based on lived experiences and shared values” to the role of lieutenant governor.

The next gubernatorial election in Pennsylvania is scheduled for November 8, 2022. But with a pandemic and no incumbent, there will be many contenders from both major parties. At his February 16 CNN Town Hall, President Biden said it would be the end of July before the U.S. had enough vaccines to inoculate everyone and Christmas before things would approach normalcy. Under those circumstances, campaigning will be complicated.

Sims jumping in early makes news and allows him time to generate both media attention and money. It’s going to be an expensive race. In 2014, Tom Wolf pledged $10 million of his personal wealth and raised another $8 million in a field of nine candidates. And that was a race with an incumbent. The 2022 race is wide open with no incumbent.

The race for governor and lieutenant governor in the commonwealth will likely take on national attention. Pennsylvania was a focal point of the 2020 election and was the state that clinched the win for Biden.

Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the election results led the Pennsylvania GOP and others in Congress to fixate on whether PA mail-in ballots were tampered with and whether then-Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar had overstepped her legal bounds in extending the deadline to return mail-in ballots.

Trump and various Republicans filed a dozen lawsuits in their efforts to first suppress the vote and then overturn it. Republicans in the state legislature worked to prevent certification of the votes. Shifting the status of Pennsylvania from Biden to Trump was a pivot for Congressional Republicans — 139 in the House and seven in the Senate — who insisted Trump had won the election.

Sims was outspoken in his critiques of Republicans and their intent to overturn the vote in Pennsylvania. And as he noted in his announcement, “My time in the state legislature has taught me a lot about not only how Pennsylvania government works, but a lot about how it doesn’t.”

On Jan. 6, Sims called for the resignation of state senator Doug Mastriano after Mastriano admitted he was at the Capitol insurrection. Mastriano represents the 33rd District. Sims said in a Twitter post that Mastriano was “heavily involved in today’s insurrection in the nation’s Capitol. After weeks of seditious conspiracies his actions have grown grossly and predictably dangerous and I join Sen. Tim Kearney in calling for his resignation.”

Sims also said of Mastriano, “This is the same senator that tested positive for Covid upon arriving at the White House several weeks ago to pursue his attempts to overthrow PA’s election results. His behavior is deliberate, radical and criminal and he should resign or be expelled from the General Assembly.”

Sims began making history as a gay man when he came out in college. In 2000, as co-captain of the Bloomsburg University football team, Sims came out as gay to his teammates. In doing so, the regional All-American became the only openly gay college football captain in NCAA history.

Before assuming public office, Sims served as staff counsel for policy and planning at the Philadelphia Bar Association with a focus on gender bias issues and environmental issues.

Sims has served as the President of Equality Pennsylvania, and as the Chairman of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP).

In 2009, Sims joined the faculty of the Center for Progressive Leadership and the National Campaign Board of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. He was selected as one of the Top 40 LGBT Attorneys Under 40 in the U.S. by the National LGBT Bar Association in 2010.

Sims’s announcement of his candidacy garnered this headline from Fox News: “Pa. Democrat Brian Sims, who harassed pro-life teens in 2019 video, announces lieutenant governor run.”

The headline referenced the 2019 controversy over Sims’ confronting women and teen protesters at the Planned Parenthood clinic in the Gayborhood at 12th and Locust Streets. PGN reported the story.

In two separate videos Sims took on his cell phone and posted to his Twitter account, Sims called the protestors racist because the majority of those served at the clinic are women of color. The protestors were white.

The videos went viral and garnered national attention. Sims received threats from pro-life activists and a rally was held protesting his actions outside his Center City office. The rally called for his resignation, but Sims said those calling for his ouster were “bigoted, sexist, and misogynistic Bible Bullies.”

Sims later acknowledged that his actions had been “aggressive” toward the women and girls, and apologized for bringing unwanted attention to the clinic itself, but stood by the content of his comments.

Sims is known for being staunchly pro-choice and supporting women’s healthcare. He has volunteered as an escort for women who have to bypass protestors to access health care services at Planned Parenthood.

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Victoria A. Brownworth is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, DAME, The Advocate, Bay Area Reporter and Curve among other publications. She was among the OUT 100 and is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including the Lambda Award-winning Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic and Ordinary Mayhem: A Novel, and the award-winning From Where They Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth and Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life.