2016 Candidate Endorsements

Congressional Allies

Twenty-five incumbent candidates, and one former member of Congress, endorsed by FEF

These candidates endorsed by the FEF PAC have demonstrated their solidarity with the secular community by supporting legislative measures that strengthen the separation of church and state, protect nontheists from discrimination and uphold scientific integrity in education and research. Incumbent candidates endorsed by the FEF PAC are: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Rep. Don Beyer (VA-8), Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9), Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), Rep. Bill Foster (IL-11), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2), Rep. Jim Himes (CT-4), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Rep. Mike Honda (CA-17), Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-33), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-2), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28), Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-3), Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Rep. Adam Smith (WA-9) and Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14). The FEF PAC is also endorsing Carol Shea-Porter, who is running to reclaim her seat in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District. More information about these candidates can be found here.

Arizona Candidates

Nine candidates running for federal, state, and local offices

Thanks to the efforts of local secular activists – with special recognition to Serah Blain and Evan Clark – this state, once a bastion of religious conservatism, is now a model for the freethought movement in recruiting and campaigning for secular candidates. Of the nine Arizona candidates, two are running for U.S. Congress, Mikel Weisser (Congressional District 4) and Talia Fuentes (CD 5); two are running for the Arizona State Senate, Rep. Juan Mendez (District 26) and Scott Prior (District 16); three are running for the Arizona State House, Beth Weisser (District 5), Cara Prior (District 16), and Athena Salman (District 26); and, two are running for local seats, Matthew Cerra (Maricopa County Board of Supervisors – District 1) and Ryan Winkle (Mesa City Council – District 3). More information about these Arizona candidates can be found here.

Pinny Beebe-Center

Running for: Maine State House (District 93)

Pinny Beebe-Center won re-election to Maine’s State House in the 93rd Legislative District. Beebe-Center is in her first term of office winning a special election for the seat just last year. She is a strong advocate for families and youth working on issues such as child poverty, addiction, mental health, and the environment. Beebe-Center is a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation. She believes that “religion is a personal choice. It should not be imposed on others and clearly should not be the motivation or consideration for policy, regulation or legislation.” She faced a Republican opponent in the general election.

Ernie Chambers

Running for: Nebraska State Senate (District 11)

Sen. Ernie Chambers won re-election to Nebraska’s 11th State Senate District. Chambers is a hero in the secular movement because of his attempt to end state-supported chaplain legislative prayers in the Supreme Court case Marsh v. Chambers (1983) and his 2007 legal action against God to protest frivolous and inappropriate lawsuits. He is the longest-serving state senator in the history of Nebraska, although he did have to take a short break when term-limits were introduced. Senator Chambers received the American Humanist Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award at its 75th anniversary conference this year.

Beth Doglio

Running for: Washington State House (District 22, Position 2)

Beth Doglio won election to Washington’s State House as the 22nd Legislative District State Representative – Position 2. Doglio, who in her early childhood was raised Catholic, is now agnostic about religion. For the past 30 years, she has focused her efforts on working for civil and environmental justice. She currently is the campaign director for the environmental protection organization Climate Solutions. She has also worked and volunteered for other environmental, reproductive rights and educational organizations as well as for local and federal political campaigns. She is running for an open seat because the Democratic incumbent is running for the State Senate. Deligo has built strong connections in her district, demonstrated by the fact that she was unopposed in the primary. No other Democratic, Republican or third party candidates filed for this seat.

Patrick Edwards

Running for: Pennsylvania General Assembly (District 62)

Patrick Edwards ran for the Pennsylvania General Assembly in District 62. Edwards identifies as a secular humanist. He is one of three elected auditors for White Township in Indiana, Penn., and is a senior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), where he is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Economics. Edwards is also president of the Secular Student Alliance of IUP. His campaign is focused on promoting accountability and restoring trust in the state government. Edwards advocates for policies that increase personal freedom, allowing people to make their own choices while ensuring that people have access to affordable and quality health care and universal pre-kindergarten education and tuition-free public college. He was unopposed in the Democratic primary but was unsuccessful in his effort to unseat the Republican incumbent, David Reed, in the general election.

Julie Fahey

Running for: Oregon State House (District 14)

Julie Fahey won election to Oregon’s 14th State House District. Fahey, who doesn’t identify with any religion, believes “critical thinking and science can best help us understand our world.” Her public policy decisions will be “guided by evidence and a rational approach to decision-making, rather than by dogma or religious beliefs.” She is passionate about protecting the environment, expanding economic opportunities, improving education, defending a woman’s right to choose, and will be a “tireless voice against discrimination in all its forms.” Fahey has spent the last 15 years in the private sector helping businesses and nonprofits pay and treat their employees fairly to create positive work environments.

Fatima Rita Fahmy

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

Fatima Rita Fahmy ran for election to the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Fahmy does not identify with any religion and supports the complete separation of church and state. She pledged to be “a fighter and never back down against Washington special interests. She supports full equality for all Americans, a living wage, a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, affordable health care for all, a real plan to combat climate change, comprehensive immigration reform and to expand and protect Social Security and Medicare.” Fahmy was not successful in the Florida primary election on August 30.

Jennifer Goulet

Running for: Washington State House (District 9, Position 1)

Jennifer Goulet ran for Washington’s State House as the 9th Legislative District State Representative – Position 1. Goulet identifies as an atheist and has been active in many secular groups including the Tri-City Freethinkers, Secular Coalition for Washington and Mid-Columbia Coalition of Reason. She is also on the board of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho. Goulet says, “Any time religion interferes with the wellbeing and rights of others, I am there to push back.” In addition to the separation of government and religion, Goulet advocates for a stronger K-12 public education system and affordable college, ensuring a living wage, and fostering the development and use of energy from clean and renewable sources to curb climate change. Goulet was not successful in unseating the Republican incumbent in the general election.

Eric Grimm

Running for: Probate Court Judge (Muskegon County, Michigan)

Eric C. Grimm ran for election to be a judge on the Probate Court of Muskegon County, Michigan. Although raised Catholic, he does not recall ever believing in anything supernatural, and he identifies as a naturalist. Grimm, an undergraduate National Merit Scholar and an honors graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, served on the staff of two courts (Texas Supreme Court and U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas) in the 1990s. In his 22-year legal career, he has represented clients across the country. He also served as a council member of the City of Roosevelt Park from 2008 to 2011 and again from 2012 to 2015. Grimm resigned his seat because some of his council colleagues refused to be more inclusive, citing – among other factors – the city’s recognition of the National Day of Prayer but not the National Day of Reason. Grimm was not successful in his primary election bid on August 2.

Martha Hennessey

Running for: New Hampshire State Senate (District 5)

Rep. Martha Hennessey won election to New Hampshire’s 5th State Senate District. She is currently a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives (District Grafton 12). Hennessey is not affiliated with a religious organization and believes “in the dignity of all human beings and our individual rights to pursue personal meaning and truth; I believe in complete separation of church and state.” Hennessey is a Psychologist and taught at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine. She is a progressive legislator advocating for the environment, women’s reproductive rights, public education, LGBT rights and gun control. The current Democratic incumbent is not seeking re-election, and Hennessey was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Hennessey defeated her Republican opponent in the general election

Diego Hernandez

Running for: Oregon State House (District 47)

Diego Hernandez won election to Oregon’s 47th State House District. Hernandez, who was raised Catholic, is now an agnostic. He is a strong supporter of the separation of church and state and believes that public policy should be “subject to argument, and amenable to reason.” He is dedicated to supporting education, community safety, and an economy that supports working families and small businesses. He received a BA in Political Science and Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon and a Masters in Social Work at Portland State University. He has worked as a middle and high school teacher and was elected to the school board. Hernandez is currently the Co-Executive Director of Momentum Alliance, a nonprofit that develops young civic leaders. This was an open seat with the incumbent running for another elective office.

Gayle Jordan

Running for: Tennessee State Senate (District 14)

Gayle Jordan ran for election to Tennessee’s State Senate, District 14. She identifies as an atheist and humanist, and is a member of Murfreesboro Freethinkers. Jordan is an attorney and serves as the executive director of Recovering From Religion. Jordan says she has “watched the legislature of my beloved state govern with unkind, uncaring, and unnecessary legislation, costing the state millions of dollars in legal battles. I listened as they made divisive and hateful statements regarding immigrants, refugees, members of the LBGT community, women, the uninsured, and the poor.” She is running to correct these injustices and end intrusive government overreach. Jordan was unopposed in the Democratic primary on August 4, but was unsuccessful in her bid to unseat the incumbent Republican in the general election.

Chris Kennedy

Running for: Colorado State House (District 23)

Chris Kennedy won election to Colorado’s 23rd State House District. Kennedy, who was raised without religion in his life, identifies as agnostic. He made a major career change from architectural engineering to public service because “he could no longer stand on the sidelines and watch the erosion of the middle class, the squandering of our federal budget on wars and handouts to special interests, the destruction of our environment and the denial of equal rights to so many of our citizens.” Kennedy has volunteered on many local and federal campaigns and worked for several local elected officials. From these experiences and the political contacts he developed, Kennedy was urged to run for this open seat, as the Democratic incumbent cannot seek re-election due to term limits. Kennedy was unopposed in the Democratic primary, and defeated his Republican opponent in the general election.

Pam Marsh

Running for: Oregon State House (District 5)

Pam Marsh won election to Oregon’s 5th State House District. She is not affiliated with a religious organization and believes that “one’s religious views are irrelevant to public office.” Marsh has been an Ashland City Council member since 2012, and she is a small business owner and manager of the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. She earned a BA in Political Science from Southern Oregon University. Marsh is committed to strengthening public education and health care delivery systems, and increasing affordable housing and the minimum wage. She will promote legislation to address climate change by fostering an energy economy based on renewable resources and emerging technologies. The current Democratic incumbent is retiring. Marsh ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and defeated her Republican opponent in the general election.

Strom Peterson

Running for: Washington State House (District 21, Position 1)

Rep. Strom Peterson won re-election to Washington’s State House as the 21st Legislative District Representative – Position 1. Peterson identifies as agnostic and says that “Religion does not play a role in my personal life, but my personal beliefs such as helping the poor and protecting the environment influence my policy decisions.” Serving in his first term in office, he has successfully reached across the aisle to pass environmental legislation to protect honey bee colonies, provide funds to replace outdated and leaking petroleum storage tanks and made it easier for doctors to monitor the over-prescription of opioids. He is also a champion of fully funding public schools to reduce class size and increase teacher pay.

Misty Plowright

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

Misty Plowright ran for election to the US House of Representatives in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District. She won a competitive Democratic primary on June 28 to become the first openly transgender nominee for federal office, along with US Senate candidate Misty Snow of Utah, of a major party. Although organized religion plays no role in her personal life, Plowright says “freedom and equality for all belief, including secular ones, are of the utmost importance to me.” Her personal beliefs and political platform demonstrate a “commitment to the idea we must take care of each other and our planet.” She knows first-hand the debilitating effects of limited resources on essential things such as food security, health care and education, which together make it difficult even to imagine the potential for a decent life. Plowright’s policies will help people succeed by instituting a living wage, universal single payer health care and assistance with college tuition. She was unsuccessful in unseating the Republican incumbent Doug Lamborn in the general election.

Jamie Raskin

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

As a self-identified humanist and lifetime member of the American Humanist Association, Senator Raskin is one of the leading advocates for the separation of church and state. Also a progressive Democrat, Senator Raskin led efforts in Maryland to pass bills on same-sex marriage, repeal the death penalty, and legalize medical marijuana. After being elected to the State Senate in 2006, Sen. Raskin has become a rising star of Democratic politics in Maryland, serving in leadership roles on the Select Committee on Ethics Reform, the Judicial Proceedings Committee, and having been selected as Majority Whip (the second top leadership position in the State Senate) in 2012. He also serves as a constitutional law professor at American University, having received his law degree from Harvard in 1987. Raskin was successful in winning this open seat for Congress.

Election Day message from Jamie Raskin: “I want to express my immense thanks to all my friends in the humanist movement across Maryland and the United States who knocked on doors, contributed generously, and organized for me over the last 19 months. I treasure your solidarity and support. At a time when ferocious appeals to racial, ethnic and religious prejudice have reentered national politics, I am proud to have championed in this campaign the universal and progressive values of humanism that you defend. Humanists are people who reject theocracy, misogyny, sectarian politics, racism and religious bigotry, homophobia, and the dangerous lures of xenophobia and immigrant-bashing. In my decade as a Maryland State Senator and my quarter-century as a professor of constitutional law, I have stood firm for the Madisonian freedom of conscience, the Jeffersonian separation of church and state, and the secular Enlightenment values that inspired our Founders. At my best–when fighting for marriage equality, reproductive freedom, criminal justice reform and abolition of the death penalty, dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions– I have participated in the concrete advancement of humanist values. As a Member of Congress, I will continue to work with the humanist movement to ground our policy debates in real science, empirical evidence and logic and to build public policies that promote solidarity, equal opportunity and civil rights and liberties for all. I will cross the aisle whenever I can to develop public policies that move America forward and unite – rather than divide – our beloved nation.”

Melissa Sargent

Running for: Wisconsin State House (District 48)

Melissa Sargent won re-election to the Wisconsin State Assembly District 48. Sargent identifies as agnostic. She was first elected in 2012 and is serving in her second term. In the harsh political environment created by Governor Scott Walker and the Republican controlled Assembly and Senate, Sargent has been a strong progressive voice to fully fund public schools and make college affordable, increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, enact common sense gun control, legalize marijuana, and protect women’s reproductive choices. She was unopposed in both the Democratic primary and general election.

Tim Smith

Running for: New Hampshire State House (Hillsborough District 17)

Tim Smith won re-election to New Hampshire’s State House in the Hillsborough District 17. Smith is a lifelong atheist. He is also a Major in the Civil Air Patrol and a member of the New Hampshire Democratic State Committee. Smith was first elected in 2012 and is serving in his second term. He promotes policy that will empower everyday people to improve their circumstances such as supporting public education and ensuring a viable social safety net. Smith has introduced legislation to protect rape victims from child custody lawsuits, enhanced penalties for corrupt contractors and corporate criminals, and a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. He ran with one other Democrat, against three Republicans, for one of the two seats in the district.

Misty K. Snow

Running for: U.S. Senate (Utah)

Misty K. Snow ran for election to the US Senate in Utah. She won a competitive Democratic primary on June 28 to become the first openly transgender nominee for federal office of a major party, along with US Representative candidate Misty Plowright of Colorado. Although raised Mormon, she now does not identify with any religion. Snow is an ardent progressive, dedicated to promoting public policy that will address climate change, provide full equality for the LGBTQ community, make higher education affordable, protect women’s reproductive rights and build an economy that benefits all Americans. She was unsuccessful in unseating the Republican incumbent Mike Lee in the general election.

Mark Spreitzer

Running for: Wisconsin State Assembly (District 45)

Mark Spreitzer won re-election to the Wisconsin State Assembly in the 45th District. Spreitzer is an ally of the secular community. He says his values are “largely secular humanist even though I belong to a religious community… I believe my values inform both my religion and my public policy decisions rather than my religion dictating public policy decisions.” He is in his first term of office during which he has fought to raise the minimum wage, fully fund public schools, and relieve the burden of student debt. Spreitzer is openly gay and strongly supports LGBTQ equality.

Barbara Stocker

Running for: Missouri State House (District 115)

Barbara Stocker ran for election to Missouri’s State House in District 115. Stocker is a member of the American Humanist Association and identifies as a secular humanist. She moved to Missouri in 1972 with a Master’s Degree in Biochemistry to work in medical research at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis. Stocker transitioned from academia to the corporate sector with positions at Ralston Purina and Monsanto. Now retired, Stocker serves on the board of Jefferson College and is treasurer of the Southeast Missouri Rural Caucus. She is running to help build the economy in southeast Missouri and ensure the economic and social protection of its citizens. Stocker was unopposed in the Democratic primary, but not successful in unseating the Republican incumbent in the general election.

Lisa Subeck

Running for: Wisconsin State Assembly (District 78)

Lisa Subeck won re-election to the Wisconsin State Assembly in District 78. Subeck is a strong supporter of the separation of government and religion and a proven ally of the secular community. When she served on the Madison City Council, she co-sponsored legislation to specifically include the nonreligious as a protected class under Madison’s Equal Opportunity Ordinance. Representing Madison, she has worked closely with the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which is based there. This relationship began while Subeck was the director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, which worked with FFRF Founder Anne Nichol Gaylor on reproductive rights.

Perrin Swanlund

Running for: California State Assembly (District 34)

Perrin Swanlund ran for election to California’s 34th State Assembly District. Swanlund identifies as an atheist, and was motivated to run because the current incumbent made national headlines when she said the drought was God’s wrath at abortion laws. “Although she is termed out,” Swanlund said, “her brand of religious conservatism will continue in her successor if we fail to act.” Swanlund is running on a progressive platform of reforming the state prison system, addressing the water crisis, and implementing a single-payer healthcare system. If successful in November, Swanlund would be the youngest member of the Assembly in modern times. He has just graduated high school and plans to be an English and political science major at the University of California-Davis. Swanlund placed second in the blanket primary on June 7, but was unsuccessful in general election against his Republican opponent.

Ryan Tipping-Spitz

Running for: Maine State House (District 123)

Ryan Tipping-Spitz won re-election to the Maine State House in the 123rd District. He is in his second term of office and was very pleased when he received our questionnaire, “We receive piles of religious-based information once elected from a wide array of groups. Thank you for standing up for reason in a landscape so often devoid of it.” Tipping-Spitz was raised a Unitarian Universalist and says, “Religion does not play a role in determining my stance on issues before us in Augusta. Science and good data guide my policy decisions.” He is currently working on legislation to ensure corporations pay their fair share in taxes, to increase the monitoring of the transportation of hazardous materials, and to make college education more affordable.

Beth Tuura

Running for: Florida State House (District 47)

Beth Tuura ran for election to Florida’s State House in the 47th District. Tuura identifies as a freethinker and humanist and says that the separation of church and state is the “corner stone of our democracy.” She has a successful career in broadcast television sports, winning three Emmy Awards for her work and participating in eight Olympics, the Kentucky Derby, and the Super Bowl. Tuura was inspired to run for State Representative because “of the threats that the legislature is making on our healthcare, our environment, our schools and on our freedoms.” She will be a champion of LGBT rights, gun control and reproductive rights. Tuura won the primary on August 30 against two Democratic opponents, but was unsuccessful in unseating the Republican incumbent in the general election.

Sam Young

Running for: Vermont State House (Orleans-Caledonia-1 District)

Sam Young won re-election to the Vermont State House – Orleans-Caledonia-1 District. Young was raised Christian, but is now agnostic. He was first elected in 2010 and is serving in his third term. Young is working to expand broadband and telecommunications in this district to increase economic opportunities, realign tax policy as a member of the Ways and Means Committee to increase funding for public education, and decriminalize Marijuana possession and invest in drug treatment and harm reduction services.