PGN Endorsement for Lt. Governor: Rep. Austin Davis

As The Victory Fund has stated about the race for Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor, the LGBT Community is not a monolith, and this race, specifically, makes that clear. Most Democratic LGBT elected officials in Pennsylvania are endorsing LGBT ally and State Rep. Austin Davis over State Rep. Brian Sims, along with Pittsburgh’s Steel City Stonewall Democrats. Even the two other LGBT State Representatives, Rep. Jessica Benham and Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who Sims serves with in Harrisburg, have not endorsed Sims. 

Austin Davis has been endorsed by Pennsylvania LGBT leaders including Sean Strub, Mayor of Milford, PA and a longtime HIV/AIDS activist who founded POZ magazine and wrote the book “Body Counts”; Deb Whitewood from Allegheny County, who successfully sued the state for marriage equality in 2013; Dr. Maria Sanelli, founder of Schuylkill County Stonewall Democrats; C. Lee Hill, President of Steel City Stonewall Democrats; major OUT labor leaders Matthew Yarnell of Centre County, who is President of SEIU Healthcare PA, and Michelle Kessler of Luzerne County, who is the Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW Local 1776; leading trans advocates Dena Stanley of Pittsburgh and Corinne Goodwin of Allentown; Dr. Katie Dalke of Cumberland County who focuses on the mental health of LGBTQI people; Rue Landau former Executive Director of the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission; community activist Tyrell Brown from Philadelphia; Elizabeth Coffey Williams who co-facilitates Transway at the William Way LGBT Community Center; and Micah Mahjoubian from Philadelphia, who we would not have the John C. Anderson LGBT Senior affordable apartments without.

Sims’ campaign has earned endorsements including those of Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club; State Rep. Danilo Burgos; State Rep. Steve Samuelson; Tarah Probst, mayor of Stroudsburg; Greater Reading PAC; and State Rep. Maureen Madden and State Rep. Angel Cruz. But his campaign has been faltering for many reasons, including fundraising failures compared to Malcolm Kenyatta, the other out candidate running statewide who outraised Sims four to one, his numerous outbursts on the House floor, on social media and at public forums, as well as what some have called deceptive and intimidation tactics. His tactics were so alarming that the Democratic leadership in the State Senate and the State House put out the following Statement regarding Sims campaign: “It is clear Representative Sims is willing to put his own self interest above that of the party, and for that reason he is unfit to help lead it.” 

How is Sims expected to work with so many of the colleagues in Harrisburg that he has alienated? 

After that strong statement from the Harrisburg leaders, Sims then aired an ad which Gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro stated was misleading. And that’s not to mention the videos online of him taking Republican bait and going out of control on the House Floor, his yelling at women that was filmed and posted on the web, and the video, as was reported in Philly Voice, of Sims remaining “silent while black and brown people” were “repeatedly discriminated” against in the Gayborhood.”

Then there’s the infamous ethics investigation. And if all of that were not enough, there’s a court docket that indicates that in 2017 the IRS filed a $33,274.77 tax lien against Brian K. Sims due to unpaid balances on his 2010, 2011, and 2015 personal income taxes. The lien was not paid off until March 2021. Brian Sims isn’t unqualified because he’s a gay man, he’s unqualified because he’s a bad candidate. A primary is about choosing candidates that will win in November, and when it comes to facing Republicans in the general election, Sims is a liability.

His failure as a State Rep. also includes being too busy posting on social media and traveling for speaking engagements to do the legislative work it takes to pass the Equality Act. There are ways to get a bill passed without having a majority in Harrisburg, and Sims never brought people together to get the job done. We’ll expand on how to pass the Equality Act in other endorsements. 

With our community under attack, Austin Davis is the only candidate in this race that can, as Lt. Governor, preside over the Pennsylvania State Senate and be the diplomat with Senate Republicans that Gov. Shapiro needs to pass legislation like the Equality Act and, more importantly now than ever, to save women’s right to choose. Because of his ability to be a steady and trusted voice who works well with others, he is endorsed by Josh Shapiro. Shapiro has said he wants to work with Davis together in Harrisburg. Why wouldn’t we want to encourage that teamwork? 

Davis has also been endorsed by the State Democratic Party, Pittsburgh’s LGBT Stonewall Democrats, Pennsylvania’s first out woman State Representative Rep. Jessica Benham, almost every county’s democratic committee in the state, Philadelphia Democratic City Committee, the Democratic leadership of the State Senate and the State House, and almost all ward leaders in Philadelphia, including those in the Gayborhood. PGN is proud to join them and endorse Austin Davis for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.