Kevin Walling, the out gay man running for Maryland's 16th District in the House of Delegates, has been endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the organization whose goal it is to help elect qualified, out LGBT candidates to public office.
Walling received the organization's endorsement Oct. 29, but only recently begun touting it in fundraising emails.
When candidates ask to be endorsed by the Victory Fund, the organization's campaign board – which meets monthly – determines whether they meet the specific criteria, including being able to demonstrate political viability, an ability to raise money, and whether the office a candidate is seeking is suitable to that individual's experience, according to Jeff Spitko, the chief marketing officer for the Victory Fund, which is also ''bundling'' for Walling, meaning it will pool contributions from multiple donors via a link on Victory Fund's website for Walling's campaign.
''Kevin would showcase as a role model for LGBT youth, and would be the youngest openly gay delegate at 28,'' Spitko said of the reasons leading to the Victory Fund's endorsement. ''His work on transgender issues, his work on marriage equality at Equality Maryland, is incredibly impressive for someone so young.''
Spitko also noted that Walling went through the Victory Fund's training for prospective candidates a few years ago, and then took a refresher course this year. The organization provides a three-day intensive boot camp for candidates three to four times a year that teaches attendees about dealing with fundraising, press, bolstering their name recognition and other concerns they may have running as an openly LGBT candidate. The next boot camp will be held in Denver from Dec. 5 to 8, in conjunction with the LGBT Leaders Conference, a four-day long professional development and networking event run by the Victory Institute, an arm of the Victory Fund.
''I feel really good. It's one of the earliest endorsements for next cycle, and they are prioritizing our race, because it is important to elect the next generation of LGBT leaders,'' Walling told Metro Weekly about securing Victory Fund's backing. ''This investment in me early means the world. I think that it says that we are going to be really competitive in this race, and they're putting a stake in the ground, saying this is someone they truly believe in for this campaign.''