LGBTQ candidates in the 2018 election—Who ran, and who won?

Illustration by Ella Abbott.

Exactly 392 openly people ran for office across the nation this year. Here are the ones who were vying for a spot to represent us in .

Ohio State Senate

The only—and the first—member of the LGBTQ community to run for Senate District 23 was Nickie Antonio. She openly identifies as lesbian and currently has 2 daughters with her wife of 23 years, Jean Kosmac.

Antonio just served her fourth elected term in the Ohio House of Representatives, and she currently serves as the highest-ranking member of the Health and Joint Medicaid Oversight, Finance & Appropriations, Rules & Reference and Joint Legislative Ethics committees.

Antonio was also the Joint lead sponsor for Senate Bill 23/House Bill 61 (the Adoption Open Records Law). She has also—during each of her four House terms—introduced the Ohio Fairness Act amongst other pieces of legislation concerning improving the lives of LGBTQ Ohioans. No anti-LGBTQ legislation has passed during her terms.

Antonio won the Senate race 65.2% to 34.8% against Steve Flores (R).


Ohio House of Representatives

Three people in the LGBTQ community ran for the Ohio House: John McManus, Rick Neal and Taylor Sappington.

John McManus ran to represent District 41. McManus is the Current Vice President of the Dayton city Board of Education, representing approximately 150,000 people. McManus is also Deputy Clerk of Court in the Franklin County Municipal Court, as well as teaches Political Science as an adjunct professor at Sinclair Community College.

Prior to that, he served as a government affairs specialist and a regulator in Tennessee at the state level, which is also where he founded the Sunlight Project, a charity group focused on art-service projects for people with disabilities and the elderly. He also worked as a staff assistant in the White House. He lives in Dayton with his two cats.

McManus lost the House race against James Butler (R), 55% to 45%.


Rick Neal ran for District 15. He served in the Peace Corps as a health educator after college. He ran refugee relief programs in Asia and Africa, launched a hospital reconstruction project in Afghanistan and went to Jordan following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 to join the humanitarian response.

Back in Washington, he represented and advocated for refugees. He married Tom Grote in 2007; they both are leaders in the Columbus LGBTQ community.

In 2014, Neal returned to Africa to work briefly in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, during the Ebola epidemic. His duties involved assisting the construction of a large field hospital. Following the 2016 election, he and thousands of other Ohioans pushed back against the policies of the new administration.

Rick Neal lost the House race against Steve Stivers (R), 58.6% to 39.5%. Jonathan Miller Jr. of the Libertarian Party had the remaining 1.9% of votes.


Taylor Sappington ran for District 94. From the Appalachian region of Ohio, he has consistently bore witness to his homeland being overlooked at the state level and aims to change that.

“I think that to get the state and its lawmakers to pay attention to our district, we need somebody who stands a little taller and speaks a little louder to place a focus on rural Appalachian Ohio,” Sappington said, as quoted on his Victory Fund biography.

Sappington brings to the table his life of struggle as a gay man, as well as his service as a small-town city councilmember.

“For me personally, it would mean a lot to win this seat and not only represent LGBT issues, but southeast Ohio and Appalachia,” Sappington said in an interview with Ohio University’s newspaper, The Post. “To run as an openly gay man on the same ticket as Rick Neal, an openly gay man running for Congress in my district, really is kind of extraordinary.”

Taylor Sappington lost the House race against Jay Edwards (R), 58.3% to 41.7%.


Portage County

Lis Kenneth Regula is an openly-trans, first-time candidate for Portage County Auditor. He ran against 6-year Republican incumbent Janet Esposito. His experience includes many years of nonprofit work—including founding a nonprofit that plants edible gardens for public use—and service on a city government committee. Regula’s plans for the office of auditor are to increase transparency, efficiency and responsiveness. He lives here in Kent with his 12-year-old son.

Lis Regula lost the county auditor’s race by just over 13,000 votes.


While the community faced loses in Ohio, national races saw many LGBTQ and POC candidates come out on top as the Democratic party reclaimed the U.S. House of Representatives from the Republicans.

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