2016 Candidate Endorsements


The Freethought Equality Fund PAC proudly endorses a slate of nine candidates from Arizona. 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.

Find information about endorsed 2016 candidates from around the country below.

Ernie Chambers

Running for: Nebraska State Senate (District 11)

Sen. Ernie Chambers is seeking re-election to Nebraska’s 11th State Senate District. Chambers is a hero in the secular movement with 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 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. He won his nonpartisan primary election on May 10 with over 73 percent of the vote.

Julie Fahey

Running for: Oregon State House (District 14)

Julie Fahey is seeking 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. This is an open seat with the current incumbent running for Oregon’s Secretary of State.

Jennifer Goulet

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

Jennifer Goulet is seeking election to 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 faces two opponents, including the Republican incumbent, in the top two primary on August 2.

Eric Grimm

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

Eric C. Grimm is seeking 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. As a judge, he promises to ensure the scales of justice are balanced, with prompt, fair, and impartial hearings to ensure equal justice under the law. Grimm faces four opponents in the primary election on August 2.

Martha Hennessey

Running for: New Hampshire State Senate (District 5)

Rep. Martha Hennessey is seeking 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 is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Diego Hernandez

Running for: Oregon State House (District 47)

Diego Hernandez is seeking 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 is an open seat with the incumbent running for another elective office.

Mike Honda

Running for: U.S. House of Representatives (California – District 17)

Rep. Mike Honda is seeking re-election to California’s 17th Congressional District. The Representative has been a longtime friend of the secular community. He has sponsored a resolution honoring the National Day of Reason in 2015 and 2016 and this year co-sponsored legislation to protect nonreligious immigrants. “I am proud to stand strong for the separation of church and state and to defend the civil liberties of all Americans, regardless of their religious views or lack thereof,” said Honda. “I know what it’s like to have my constitutional rights violated because of my identity, and as long as I am in Congress I will work to make sure this doesn’t happen to others.” Rep. Honda is proceeding to the general election after the California June 7 primary.

Gayle Jordan

Running for: Tennessee State Senate (District 14)

Gayle Jordan is seeking 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 is unopposed in the Democratic primary on August 4.

Chris Kennedy

Running for: Colorado State House (District 23)

Chris Kennedy is seeking 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.

Pam Marsh

Running for: Oregon State House (District 5)

Pam Marsh is seeking 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 and Marsh ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Strom Peterson

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

Rep. Strom Peterson is seeking 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. Peterson has no Democratic or Republican opponents in the top two primary on August 2.

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 passing bills on same-sex marriage, repealing the death penalty, and legalizing medical marijuana. After first being elected to the State Senate in 2006, Sen. Raskin has been 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.

Barbara Stocker

Running for: Missouri State House (District 115)

Barbara Stocker is seeking 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 is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Perrin Swanlund

Running for: California State Assembly (District 34)

Perrin Swanlund is seeking 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 and will proceed to the general election.