Jabari Brisport Headlines Big Night for LGBTQ Candidates in State Races

Jabari Brisport
Out gay State Senate hopeful Jabari Brisport is 11 points ahead as he awaits the results of absentee ballots that will not be counted until next week.
Matt Tracy

On a night when new queer candidates aiming for Albany were well-represented on ballots across the New York City metro area, out gay Brooklyn State Senate hopeful Jabari Brisport paved the way with an impressive performance to put him one step closer to becoming the first out LGBTQ Black person elected to the State Legislature.

Brisport has earned roughly 50 percent of the vote in the race for the 25th Senate District, giving him an 11-point edge over Assemblymember Tremaine Wright heading into the absentee ballot count next week.

Brisport, who was endorsed by Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx and Queens and US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, is a public school math teacher in Brooklyn who attracted a robust base of small-dollar grassroots donors and ran on an unabashedly progressive platform aimed at uplifting public schools, implementing single-pay healthcare, taking on gentrification and homelessness, and comprehensively decriminalizing sex work, as well as other issues, such as legalizing marijuana. In recent weeks he has been a vociferous supporter of the movement to slash billions from the NYPD.

While local queer political groups curiously shunned his historic candidacy in favor of Jason Salmon — who didn’t even get seven percent of the vote in the initial tally — Brisport did land the support of the LGBTQ Victory Fund in addition to out lesbian former gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon. 

Among other queer candidates competing in state races on June 23 included out transgender Westchester County Assembly candidate Kristen Browde, who would be the first out trans lawmaker in New York State history. She is less than three points — or 130 votes — behind top vote-getter Chris Burdick in the 93rd District heading into the final count of absentee ballots.

Kristen Browde, an out trans candidate for Assembly in Westchester, is within striking distance of her opponent with numerous mail-in ballots still uncounted.Courtesy of Kristen Browde

Some new queer candidates in races for the New York State Legislature struggled to make noise at all. Out queer Assembly hopeful Genesis E. Aquino only garnered nine percent and is in fourth place in her bid to unseat incumbent Felix W. Ortiz, who has 37.87 percent of the vote in the 51st Assembly District.

Pending the results of absentee ballots, none of the queer incumbents who faced challengers appear to be in danger of being unseated in their re-election bids. Out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman has amassed a 27-point advantage over his opponent, Elizabeth G. Glass, and out gay Rochester-area Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson is leading his challenger, Alex R. Yudelson, by 19.63 points.

Out gay Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell and out lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick, both of Manhattan, did not face any primary challengers.

A vibrant slate of LGBTQ district leader candidates were also on ballots across the city on election night. In Brooklyn, out queer district leader candidate Samy Nemir-Olivares, running in the 53rd Assembly District, has a 25.5 percent lead over his opponent, Tommy Torres. In the same borough, out queer district leader candidate Jesse Pierce has approximately a five-point lead over Rachel E. Stein in the 52nd Assembly District.

Julio Peña III, an out queer Latinx candidate for district leader in Brooklyn’s 51st Assembly District, holds a commanding lead over his opponent, Robert F. Berrios, 75.51 percent to 24.41 percent.

In Queens, out transgender district leader candidate Emilia Decaudin, running in the 37th Assembly District, Part A, is leading her opponent, Deirdre A. Feerick, by just under six points.

Also in Queens, out gay district leader candidate Zachariah Boyer is trailing his opponent, Felix J. Devito, by less than 300 votes in Assembly District 36 Part B, but Boyer encouraged his supporters in a tweet on June 24 to “keep your chin up” since “thousands” of mail-in ballots have yet to be counted.

Out trans district leader candidate Melissa Sklarz, who unsuccessfully challenged Queens Assemblymember Brian Barnwell in the last election cycle, is just 76 votes behind Melissa E. Blair in District 30 Part B.

In the Bronx, Justin Westbrook-Lowery, an out gay Black candidate for district leader in Assembly District 87, is leading his opponent, Garfield Holland, by 572 votes.

Beyond races for State Senate, State Assembly, and district leader, LGBTQ candidates also fared well in congressional races. Out gay City Councilmember Ritchie Torres appears to have knocked off his homophobic opponent, Ruben Diaz, Sr., en route to a likely spot on Capitol Hill, while out gay congressional candidate Mondaire Jones also ended the night with a big lead in the 17th Congressional District in Westchester County and Rockland County. Torres would become the first out gay Afro-Latinx member of Congress and Jones would be the first out gay Black member of Congress.

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