2018 Endorsements


State & Local Endorsements

Candidates running for state and local offices

As a federal political action committee, the focus of the Freethought Equality Fund is Congressional candidates (see below); however, running for – and winning – state and local seats is essential to increasing the visibility and political clout of the atheist and humanist community. The Freethought Equality Fund is proud to endorse state and local candidates in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin for 2018 elections. More information about these state and local candidates can be found here.

Kathleen Allen

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Georgia – District 7)

Kathleen Allen ran for Congress in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. In the May 22 Democratic primary Allen earned 11% of the vote – finishing 5th in a field of six candidates. She is a community leader, homelessness activist, and proud mom, whose career in managed healthcare grounds her support for establishing a single-payer healthcare system. She believes we must invest in our future through public schools, raise the minimum wage, and reduce our unemployment rate by supporting local businesses and reforming our immigration policies. Through her career, Allen developed an appreciation for, and understanding of, the complexity of the healthcare economy and brings to Congress a commitment to honest collaboration and fiscal responsibility on behalf of all Americans. Allen was raised in a secular home and identifies as an atheist.

David Benac

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Michigan – District 6)

David Benac is running for Congress in Michigan’s 6th Congressional District. Dr. Benac is a history professor and political activist. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and served on the Platform Committee, where he spoke out in favor of striking the numerous religious references offered for inclusion in the party’s platform. Benac believes firmly in the wall of separation between church and state that is enshrined in the First Amendment. This protects all Americans from religious intolerance and theocracy. He is running for Congress because he “doesn’t believe the Federal Government is working in the best interests of the American people, and we face too many serious challenges today to let this continue.” Benac was raised Catholic, but is now religiously unaffiliated.

Roza Calderon

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (California – District 4)

Roza Calderon is running for Congress in California’s 4th Congressional District. Calderon is a geoscientist, activist, and single mother seeking to bring real change to Congress. Her activism has been recognized in endorsements by Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats, who are working to curtail the corporate control of Congress. Her progressive agenda includes: combating climate change, fighting for Medicare for All, and building an inclusive economy. Calderon was raised Catholic, but is now a secular humanist.

Dan Canon

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Indiana – District 9)

Dan Canon ran for Congress in Indiana’s 9th Congressional District. In the May 8 Democratic primary Canon earned 31% of the vote – finishing 2nd in a field of three candidates. He is a civil rights attorney, who has worked on behalf of teachers, union members, inmates, veterans, and immigrants. He was part of the team that successfully litigated for marriage equality in the historic Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges. Having spent his life “providing a voice to the voiceless” in the judicial system, he will be a voice for all in Congress – not just the select few. Canon identifies as agnostic.

Dennis Dinge

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (New Mexico – District 1)

Dennis Dinge is a scientist and ran for Congress in New Mexico’s First Congressional District – he suspended his campaign in November 2017. Trained in electrical engineering and physics, he works on cutting edge supercomputing technology. Dinge wanted to bring his problem solving skills to Washington. He said, “I take three basic steps when solving a problem: see the problem, understand the problem, fix the problem. An unbiased assessment of all facts is necessary for the first two steps. Creativity and testing are necessary for the third. Contrast this with the current situation in Washington, in which the approach to problems is to form an opinion and then cherry pick, or even make up, facts to support that opinion.” Dinge was raised Southern Baptist, but now identifies as agnostic.

Janet Everhard

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Ohio – District 2)

Janet Everhard ran for Congress in Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District. In the May 8 Democratic primary Everhard earned 34% of the vote – finishing 2nd in a field of three candidates. Dr. Everhard is a retired physician, who “learned to listen compassionately, research and distill complex issues, and make important decisions in stressful situations.” In Congress, she wants to use her skills on issues such as economic and job development, access to affordable quality healthcare, infrastructure repair, environmental protection, and educational/retraining opportunity for all ages Everhard was raised Methodist, but “chose a humanist life by my teenage years.” She respects each person’s choice of spiritual path.

Betty Field

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Colorado – District 5)

Betty Field ran for Congress in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District. She was not successful in her bid to win primary ballot access at the Democratic state convention in April. Field has an extensive history in social work, assisting children mired in environments with violence, addiction, and poverty. She also served as executive director of an LGBTQ legislative action group. Betty has seen the issues facing poor and middle-class families and she is determined to help by making free quality education available through an Associates Degree or Technical Education Certification and by making health care a human right with Medicare For All. Field was raised Roman Catholic but is not religious now.

David Gill

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Illinois – District 13)

David Gill ran for Congress in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District. In the March 20 Democratic primary Gill earned 14% of the vote – finishing 3rd in a field of five candidates. “As an Emergency Room doctor,” Gill stated, “I’ve demonstrated that I have tremendous passion for improving the lives of all people. That passion drives my career in medicine, and it’s what motivates me to become a leader in the U.S. House.” Gill’s experience in providing leadership and taking effective action in crisis situations will serve us well in dealing with the Trump Administration. Gill is a longtime member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, Physicians for a National Health Program, and several organizations that promote death with dignity legislation. He is a humanist and a passionate defender of the separation between church and state.

Aaron Godfrey

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Ohio – District 16)

Aaron Godfrey ran for Congress in Ohio’s 16th Congressional District. In the May 8 Democratic primary Godfrey earned 8% of the vote – finishing 5th in a field of six candidates. Aaron is a scientist with a B.A. and M.S. in physics and works at a high-tech aerospace company. Raised in a true working class family, he struggled to raise the money to pay for college – an ongoing struggle, thanks to the burden of student loan debt. Godfrey fears that the American dream of reaching the middle class through education and hard work is being eradicated. To reverse this, he is advocating for reform of the K-12 public school system and access to affordable, quality higher education. He also supports the creation of a public option/Medicare-for-All healthcare system, an end to partisan gerrymandering, and efforts to curb our nation’s contribution to climate change and support of initiatives for sustainable, renewable resources. Godfrey identifies as an atheist.

Kia Hamadanchy

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (California – District 45)

Kia Hamadanchy is running for Congress in California’s 45th Congressional District. Hamadanchy has devoted his career to “fighting for families across this country and to making sure that each and every American – no matter where they are from, who they love, or what religion they practice – is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.” Hamadanchy knows how Washington works having served as a staff member to U.S. Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. He will use his knowledge and skills to promote policy that will “save the America that we love and admire” and to “preserve a livable world for our children and grandchildren.” While a number of his family members consider themselves to be Muslim, Hamadanchy was raised in a secular fashion and does not identify with any particular religion. He strongly believes in each and every American’s right to practice the faith of their choosing.

Mike Hartley

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Indiana – District 5)

Mike Hartley ran for Congress in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District – he suspended his campaign in November 2017. He is an Army and Iraq War veteran. Having experienced poverty as a child, Hartley is committed to establishing programs and policies that create opportunities for economic security. This includes making health care a right under a Medicare for All program. Hartley does not have a religious affiliation. He says,”As an elected official, my religion will be the Constitution of the United States.”

Jared Huffman

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (California – District 2)

In his third term as a member of Congress, Jared Huffman represents the North Coast of California from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border. He serves on the Committee on Natural Resources and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Huffman’s prior public service includes six years in the California State Assembly and working as a public interest lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Rep. Huffman identifies as a humanist, agnostic, or nonreligious

Robert Hunziker

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Washington – District 8)

Robert Hunziker is running for Congress in Washington’s 8th Congressional District. Hunziker is running to counter the corporate interests that dominate the political process. He is a member of WolfPAC and wants to get money out of politics. Leading by example, he is refusing to take corporate or PAC money, even ours. Hunziker’s progressive agenda includes: to extend the $15 minimum wage that is working in Washington state to the rest of America to promote a living wage for all workers; create jobs while fighting climate change with investments in infrastructure and renewable energy; ensure that everyone has the opportunity to earn a higher degree by making public colleges and universities tuition-free and expand Medicare-for-all to provide good healthcare to every American. Hunziker is an atheist.

Paul Knupp, Jr.

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Iowa – District 3)

Paul Knupp Jr. is running for Congress in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. He is the co-founder and past president of the Humanist Society of Iowa. Rev. Dr. Knupp is also a humanist chaplain for the American Humanist Association and an ordained clergy of the United Church of Christ. As a humanist chaplain, he provides his services at the Iowa State Penitentiary and the Ft. Dodge Correctional Facility. Trained in psychology, Knupp says his skills are required in Congress today because “America needs counseling.” Knupp identifies as a humanist.

Bill Leiner

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Pennsylvania – District 15)

Bill Leiner ran for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District; however, he suspended his campaign in March 2018 and endorsed Susan Wild. He is a former Mayor of Coplay, PA and Lehigh County Commissioner. He currently serves on the Coplay Borough Council. Leiner wanted to bring to Congress “the political sensibilities of a successful manager, steelworker, union leader, healthcare leader, community organizer – and a tested problem-solver.” He was raised Catholic, but says that identity is now “dormant.” Leiner is not affiliated with any religion.

Kent Lester

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Texas – District 31)

Kent Lester ran for Congress in Texas’ 31st Congressional District. In the March 6 Democratic primary Lester earned 10% of the vote – finishing 4th in a field of four candidates. Lester is a West Point graduate who served 20 years in the Army. Following his military service he became a high school teacher and just recently retired from this career. In his classes he taught his students “how to think, not what to think.” Following the 2016 election, his former students encouraged Lester to run for Congress. Lester’s goal was to “bring the Old-School American Values we believe in back to Capitol Hill. Respect for all, not prejudice against a few. Service to the nation, not shirking one’s duties. Integrity, not double-talk.” Lester was raised in the Episcopal church, but now identifies as agnostic.

Jack Love

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Nevada – District 3)

John “Jack” Love is running for Congress in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District. As a successful businessman, Love knows that is necessary to foster success and understands the challenges people face today. He sees the current administration’s policies on the economy, education, infrastructure, healthcare, immigration, criminal justice, foreign policy and the environment as dangerous to our society’s success. Love says that Democrats have been too passive in promoting their agenda – “Democrats need to realize they are up against an opposition that is ruthless and devious. They believe the end justifies the means. I will fight tooth and nail against the destructive GOP policies.” Love was raised Catholic but is now religiously unaffiliated.

Marla Mott-Smith

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Utah – District 4)

Marla Mott-Smith ran for Congress in Utah’s 4th Congressional District; however, she withdrew when Salt Lake City Mayor Ben McAdams entered the race and she endorsed his candidacy. Mott-Smith is a successful small businesswomen and political activist. Her activism includes establishing a nonprofit that advocated for housing and job training for the homeless, and organizing fundraising efforts to support a home for abused women. As the matriarch of a large and diverse family, she very mindful of the need to protect the environment for future generations, expand economic opportunities, and ensure fair and equal treatment for all. She also has a “track record of standing up to bullies,” which is especially needed at this time. Mott-Smith was raised in the Catholic church, but is now religiously unaffiliated.

Julia Peacock

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (California – District 42)

Julia Peacock is running for Congress in California’s 42nd Congressional District. Peacock is a high school teacher in a low-income, high-risk school because she believes “education is the great equalizer when it comes to being able to change your life circumstances for the better.” Her progressive agenda includes: fighting against climate change and creating clean energy jobs, protecting Dreamers and creating a comprehensive path to citizenship, and ensuring equal pay for equal work and access to quality reproductive healthcare. Peacock is a humanist.

Jess Phoenix

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (California – District 25)

Jess Phoenix is running for Congress in California’s 25th Congressional District. Phoenix is a Geologist focusing on the study of volcanoes and earthquakes. She will use her experience in understanding and managing physical threats to counter and combat the current political threats to our education system, scientific research, disaster preparedness, infrastructure, national parks and wildlife, and the offensive and dangerous attacks on immigrant families, women’s rights and healthcare coverage. Phoenix was raised Roman Catholic, but now identifies as a humanist and is a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation. 

Darrell Rodriguez

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Texas – District 4)

Darrell Rodriguez ran for Congress in Texas’ 4th Congressional District – he suspended his campaign in November 2017. Rodriguez is a former public school science teacher and now serves as a school counselor. He was running for congress because “Washington has been controlled by millionaires and special interests for too long. We need teachers, police officers, nurses, social workers, firefighters and other voices at the table making decisions in Congress.” His campaign promoted healthcare for all, comprehensive immigration reform, addressing climate change, and improving education by increasing teacher’s pay and reducing class sizes. Rodriguez was raised Baptist but now is religiously unaffiliated.

Carlton E. Smith

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Mississippi – District 1)

Carlton E. Smith ran for Congress in Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District – he suspended his campaign in March 2018 and endorsed his Democratic opponent, Randy Wadkins. Smith is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and is on-leave from his regular occupation as a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Southern Region Staff. His policy goals include putting the needs of the people first, protecting the social safety net, and restoring the balance of power between citizens and corporations. Smith identifies as a humanist and as a Universalist Christian who draws inspiration from the life and teachings of Jesus. He is deeply committed to protecting the freedoms of all people, regardless of ethnicity, gender identity, economic status, nation of origin, ability, sexual orientation or religious belief.

Justin Snider

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Texas – District 6)

Justin Snider ran for Congress in Texas’ 6th Congressional District. In the March 6 Democratic primary Snider earned 7% of the vote – finishing 4th in a field of five candidates. Snider is a successful small business owner and a local community organizer. His experience as a Bernie Sanders delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention reinforced the need to promote progressive issues and policies at a local level. Snider’s attention quickly turned to his congressional district, which has been represented by Joe Barton for over thirty-four years, and he decided challenging Barton would be a good place to continue his efforts to bring reform and change to our political system. Snider was raised Christian, but now identifies as humanist.

Seth Vaughn

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (California – District 10)

Seth Vaughn ran for Congress in California’s 10th Congressional District – he suspended his campaign in December 2017. Vaughn’s “driving goal in Congress will be to restore democracy and get money out of politics.” The vast majority (88%) of Rep. Jeff Denham’s donors don’t live in his district – this was the 6th highest out of the 435 members of Congress in 2016. Vaughn was leading by example and refusing all out-of-district donations, including PAC money. He said, “We need to end our corrupt campaign finance system and start demanding democracy!” Vaughn identifies as atheist/agnostic.

Vivian Viloria-Fisher

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (New York – District 1)

Vivian Viloria-Fisher is running for Congress in New York’s 1st Congressional District. Viloria-Fisher wants to take her thirteen years of legislative experience on the Suffolk County Legislature to Washington so her constituents will have a “representative who truly appreciates the importance of protecting our planet earth, respecting all our neighbors and ensuring that families can count on a safe future: financially and environmentally.” Viloria-Fisher was raised Catholic and embraced a life of “empathy, thoughtfulness, and public service according to the example provided by Jesus, Gandhi, and other great leaders.” She is now a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

Brianna Westbrook

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (Arizona – District 8)

Brianna Westbrook ran for Arizona’s 8th Congressional seat, formerly held by Republican Trent Franks. Westbrook’s campaign began because she was “sick and tired of sitting on the sidelines hoping for a candidate that will stand up for the issues that matter.” Her progressive agenda includes: rewarding home and business owners that utilize renewable energy, abolishing private prisons, tuition-free community college, campaign finance reform, raising the federal minimum wage and supporting the push for Medicare for All because she believes health care is a human right, not a privilege. She is also active in her community as the co-chair of the local Indivisible chapter. Westbrook is a humanist and is seeking to be the first transgender member of Congress. Westbrook was not successful in the Special Election Democratic primary on Feburary 27, 2018; however, she did earn a very respectable 40% of the vote.

Tony Zarkades

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (California – District 48)

Tony Zarkades is running for Congress in California’s 48th Congressional District. Zarkades served eight years as an officer in the Marine Corp, and is now an airline pilot. He is running to save the middle class and prove that a good man can get elected to Congress. Zarkades was raised Greek Orthodox, but now considers himself not religious. He stated, “In a way, you could say the Constitution is my religion. My living room displays pictures of the Founding Fathers, Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, much like people might have a picture of the Last Supper or Christ’s crucifixion. You will not find a stronger candidate to advocate for secularism and the rights of non-believers.”