RAINBOW Wave Continues In California: Ricardo Lara Makes History

(Photo: Ricardo Lara)

California Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) made history Friday, as the Associated Press declared him the winner of the race to become California’s next State Insurance Commissioner, making him the state’s first openly LGBTQ statewide elected official.

Lara currently leads former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner with nearly 4.9 million votes or 51.6 percent, as of late Friday afternoon. Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, supported Lara’s bid to break the state’s rainbow glass ceiling and celebrated the historic victory.

“Ricardo has been a champion for California’s LGBTQ and immigrant communities throughout his career, working to tear down barriers, ensure equality for all and now break through California’s rainbow glass ceiling,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “In an already historic year for LGBTQ candidates across California and the nation, Ricardo has proven that an openly gay son of a factory worker and seamstress who immigrated from Mexico can grow up to represent 40 million people in the world’s fifth largest economy. We look forward to working with Ricardo in this new role and wish him continued success as he fights to improve the lives of all Californians.”

A wave of openly LGBTQ candidates ran for elected office across California and the nation in 2018, up and down the ballot. In addition to Lara, Equality California supported two openly LGBTQ California Congressional candidates, 10 openly LGBTQ candidates for state legislative seats and 33 openly LGBTQ local elected officials in the November general election.

For the first time ever, California will send two openly LGBTQ members of Congress to Washington: Congressman Mark Takano (D-Riverside) and Congresswoman-Elect Katie Hill (D-Santa Clarita). Out Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) is currently leading in her too-close-to-call reelection bid, and Assemblymembers Evan Low, Todd Gloria and Susan Talamantes Eggman all won reelection.

At the local level, 20 openly LGBTQ candidates endorsed by Equality California won their races this year, including LA County Assessor Jeff Prang, Dr. Jen Campbell — who ousted an incumbent to win a seat on the San Diego City Council — and Ahmad Zahrawho made history as the first openly LGBTQ Muslim elected official in the United States.