Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Jim Roth Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund

Record number of out gays seeking office
2 incumbents in tight races; Baldwin, Frank, Polis favored to win
By CHRIS JOHNSON, Washington Blade Oct 8, 9:54 AM

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is touting an unprecedented number of endorsements this year, but many of those candidates are facing significant challenges in their bids for public office.

As of Tuesday, the Victory Fund had backed 100 candidates in this year’s election — more than the 88 candidates it endorsed in 2006 or the 65 it endorsed in 2004.

Denis Dison, a Victory Fund spokesperson, said he expected a few more endorsements in the weeks remaining before Election Day.

He said one reason more openly gay candidates are running is because of victories of other gay people in previous elections.

“When you see that people are able to run openly, then I think it encourages other people who wanted to step into politics … to help their communities,” Dison said.

One candidate endorsed by the Victory Fund this year is Jim Roth, an Oklahoma Democratic candidate who is seeking to be retained as one of three members on the state’s Corporation Commission, which regulates Oklahoma’s energy and utility companies.

A former county Commissioner, Roth was appointed to his position on the Corporation Commission on June 1, 2007, by Oklahoma’s Democratic Gov. Brad Henry. While Roth won elections as county commissioner, this election marks the first time he has sought voter approval for statewide office. If he succeeds, he would be the first openly gay candidate to win statewide office in Oklahoma.

His Republican opponent in the race is Dana Murphy, a geologist and attorney.

Roth said he wanted to pursue an additional term in office because “it’s a chance to serve 100 percent of our state and to push Oklahoma in a more progressive energy direction.”

He said Oklahoma has largely untapped wind energy potential because his predecessors “have thought very narrowly about energy issues in our state.”

While Oklahoma provides about 4 percent of domestic oil production in the United States and 10 percent of its natural gas production, the state could produce 90 percent of the country’s wind energy, Roth said.

Stephen Rhymer, spokesperson for the Murphy campaign, said Roth’s sexual orientation is not an issue and Murphy’s supporters are backing her because she’s the most qualified candidate for the job.

Rhymer said Murphy has “20 years experience in the oil and gas industry” as a geologist in the oil patch, attorney in the oil and gas industry and an expert witness for the Corporation Commission.

Recent polls have Roth trailing Murphy. A poll published Sept. 30 by SurveyUSA found that 50 percent of Oklahoma voters favor Murphy while 41 percent support Roth.
Roth said the poll “is not accurate” because SurveyUSA used automated calls that didn’t determine whether responders were registered to vote or whether responders were likely to vote. He noted his campaign commissioned its own poll and found that one-third of Oklahoma residents support him, another third favor Murphy and the remaining third are undecided.

Roth said the Victory Fund has been helpful to his campaign and offered “incredible talent and altruistic people that provide tremendous moral support.”
“I think they’ve done a good job of making sure that good people are being elected because they’re good — not just because they’re gay,” he said.

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