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May 7 , 2010

Ohio likely to get its first out lawmaker

Primary win in heavily Dem district puts Antonio closer to Statehouse

Lakewood--Ohio is one step closer to its first openly gay state legislator with the victory of Lakewood councilor Nickie Antonio in the Democratic primary for the 13th District Ohio House seat.

"It's time for Ohio to join the 21st century," Antonio said of her nomination. "It's a step in the right direction. I see this as a step for equality and a step for equity. Ohio is also behind in representation of women."

"I am first and foremost a public policy person dedicated to public service," Antonio said. "It's important to have someone LGBT who is invested and connected to the community."

Antonio defeated her Democratic opponent, fellow Lakewood councilor Tom Bullock, in a race which saw Bullock sending out mailers that claimed his unnamed opponent "stands with party bosses in opposing the county government reform effort."

The claim was not true, nor were others on the flyer, and Bullock was taken to task by the weekly Scene magazine.

Fifty-four percent of the voters went for Antonio, for a total of 4,140 votes verses 3,531 for Bullock.

Antonio was endorsed by the Lesbian and Gay Victory Fund of Washington, D.C., and all of the LGBT Democratic organizations in the state. She was also endorsed by the Ohio Democratic Party.

No Republican filed to be on the ballot in November, but Antonio needs to defeat independent Jeremy Caldwell to take the seat currently held by strong LGBT ally Mike Skindell.

For his own part, Skindell easily defeated two opponents for to face the little-known Republican Dave Morris in November for a seat in the Ohio Senate. Skindell was prohibited by term limits from seeking hisHouse seat again.

Antonio spoke about raising two daughters with her partner Jean Kosmac.

"We told our daughters they could be anything they wanted," Antonio said. "I also want LGBT kids to know that anything is possible, including public service. They can run for office if they want to."

Victoy Fund president Chuck Wolfe said of Antonio's victory, "We're looking forward to finally adding Ohio to the list of states where our community has a voice in state government."

"The most dynamic and important fights for our rights are happening in state legislatures, so it's vital to have people like Nickie at the table of power," Wolfe concluded.

"No one does this alone," Antonio said.

"I had an incredible group of volunteers that spans humanity and is reflective of the district," Antonio continued. "My base represents everyone, and that means a lot to me."

A win and a loss in Columbus

Openly gay Franklin County Auditor candidate Terry Brown ran unopposed on the Democratic ticket and will face Republican Clarence Mingo, the incumbent, and Libertarian Michael Blose in November.

A second openly gay Ohio House candidate, John Sowers, was defeated in Franklin County.

Sowers garnered 2,210 votes, 29 percent of the total, against Mike Stinziano for the 25th District seat.

Stinziano, a former Columbus city council member, is a long time ally of the LGBT community and had the backing of the Democratic Party.

That district, which includes the Short North, is the gayest House district in Ohio, according to a 2000 Census count of same-sex couples. The seat is currently held by Dan Stewart, sponsor of an Ohio LGBT equality bill, who lost a bid for state senate.

This is the second time this district has chosen an ally over an openly LGBT candidate. The first was in 2002 when Stewart was nominated over Chad Foust.

Sowers said he beat Stinziano in the primarily LGBT precincts.

"We ran a hard race," Sowers said. "It's difficult to overcome the party's endorsement. I hope [Stinziano] can keep the seat Democratic."

Stinziano will face Scott Hubbard in November.

Sowers said he supports Stinziano.

Asked if he would run again, Sowers said, "I'm not ruling it out, but I have not thought much about it either."




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