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ERIE – Erie School Board President Tyler Titus on Wednesday conceded the Erie County executive race. Titus was over 4,000 votes behind shortly before midnight on Tuesday in his bid to become the first openly transgender, non-binary person in the country to win the election as county manager.

“Since launching my campaign, I have spoken with so many people who have found their place in our campaign, who have found light and inspiration in our shared vision of an inclusive future. I have spoken with countless transgender youth in Erie County and across the country who have told me that our campaign has inspired them to aim for greater heights, challenge expectations and have hope in life. ‘a safer and better future,’ Titus said in their concession statement.

Titus, a Democrat, had 28,253 votes, or 45.9%, compared to his Republican rival Brenton Davis, who had 32,786 votes, or 53.3%, with 147 of the county’s 149 ridings counted, according to the latest returns available Tuesday evening from the Erie County Electoral Board.

The Erie Times-News reported that Davis declared victory in the hotly contested county leadership race shortly before midnight, saying the “math” of the vote count no longer saw Titus winning.

It was not possible to immediately determine how many mail-in ballots were not counted on Tuesday night, but the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which has supported Titus and raised more than $ 283,000 for his campaign, said they had heard from sources that as many as 4,000 mail-in ballots had yet to count.

Josh Rosenbaum, campaign manager for Titus, said election officials would resume counting the ballots at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. He said Titus would make a statement on Wednesday.

“The [Titus] The campaign is going to look at everything in the morning and make sure everything is in place before making a final decision one way or another, ”Victory Fund spokesperson Elliot Imse told the Washington Blade. .

Political observers said Titus waged an aggressive and well-funded campaign against Davis, which Titus supporters say appealed to the anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQ sentiment of some voters by accusing Titus of planning to impose an “unknown program” on Erie County.

Davis also criticized Titus for raising most of Titus’ campaign funds from donors who live outside of the county and Pennsylvania. The Titus campaign raised just over $ 541,000 as of November 1, more than double the amount raised by the Davis campaign. A significant percentage of funds raised by the Titus campaign come from the fundraising effort of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, the national group that raises funds for LGBTQ candidates running for public office across the country.

“Tyler Titus is continuing the sale of the Erie County government to out-of-region donors who have pumped huge dollars into what is supposed to be a local political race,” the Davis campaign said in a statement. October 25. “When someone outside of Erie County puts that kind of money into a county-level election, you can bet it’s not about improving the lives of the people here,” the statement said. . “It’s about imposing an unknown agenda with mystery dollars.”

The Titus Campaign and his supporters have branded Davis’s campaign claims about out-of-town donors with a hidden agenda as an unfounded ruse aimed at distracting voters from the issues Titus raised to improve lives. residents of Erie County.

During the campaign, Rosenbaum, Titus ‘campaign manager, called Titus’ ability to raise funds from supporters outside of the county as a sign that their ideas and positions on the issues are being widely shared. support.

“It’s exciting for us that there are people across Erie County, Pennsylvania and across the country who believe in Tyler’s message and Tyler’s ability to lead Erie County to a healthy, secure and prosperous future for all of us, ”Rosenbaum told the Erie Times-News. “It shows that Tyler is an inspiration to so many people.”

Titus became the first transgender person to win the Pennsylvania public office election in 2017 when Titus won the Erie City school board election. The rest of the school board then elected Titus as board chair.

In May of this year, Titus won a surprise victory in the Democratic Erie County primary in a four-candidate race to win the nomination for county director. Most of the county’s Democratic Party leaders backed County Councilor Carl Anderson, whom Titus beat in the primaries by a margin of just 218 votes. After the primary, the Erie County Democratic Party and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party supported Titus and actively supported Titus’ campaign.

However, Democratic candidate Rita Bishop, who finished fourth in the primary and identifies as a lesbian, has announced that she is breaking ranks with her party to actively support and support Republican Davis in the November election. .

In a controversial Facebook post on October 25, Bishop posted five photos of Titus, in one of which Titus was wearing female clothes that were taken before Titus fully transitioned to his status as a transgender and non-binary person.

“Who is the real Tyler Titus?” Bishop said in his message. “He does not know.”

The post sparked an immediate wave of more than two dozen posts from Facebook users denouncing Bishop for what they called a hurtful and hateful attempt to attack a transgender candidate.

Titus ‘supporters have said they hope what they see as an attempt by Bishop and GOP candidate Davis to use the trans issue to distract voters from Titus’ positions on how government Erie County can be improved would be unsuccessful.

But some of Titus’ supporters have said the anti-trans attacks by Davis supporters may succeed in alienating voters who might otherwise have supported the Democratic candidate for the county executive.

Titus holds a master’s degree in community counseling and a doctorate in social work. Titus has worked in recent years as a licensed professional advisor operating a private consultancy firm

The Titus campaign website states that Titus is married to Shraddha Prabhu, an assistant professor at the University of Edinboro in Pennsylvania, “and the proud parent of two phenomenal children.”

Political observers have pointed out that Erie County is seen as an electoral indicator for the nation as well as Pennsylvania, which they believe could predict whether Democrats or Republicans will win the midterm elections of the United States. Congress of 2022. Donald Trump narrowly won Erie County in the 2016 presidential election and President Joe Biden narrowly won in the county in 2020.

But in addition to Titus ‘status as a transgender and non-binary candidate, Titus’ campaign emphasized that Titus was a progressive who ran to the left of his main Democratic rivals.

“The campaign is rooted in the belief that progressive politics are popular and that when you speak directly about voter values ​​you can win anywhere,” said an Oct. 18 statement from the Titus campaign.

About Joey J. Hott

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