New political group forms to campaign against anti-LGBTQ candidates

Several elected LGBTQ officeholders and veteran Democratic operatives have joined forces to form Agenda PAC, a national organization that will work to preserve LGBTQ rights by campaigning against right-wing candidates.

Founder Ted Bordelon, a political communications strategist, will serve as executive director. Malcolm Kenyatta, Pennsylvania’s first openly gay state representative of color, will serve as chair.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to an abortion served as a motivator, the group’s leaders told NBC News. In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas called on the court to also overturn landmark decisions that legalized same-sex marriage and established rights for same-sex intimacy.

“When Clarence Thomas wrote his concurrence, he welded together the freedoms to love and to choose,” Kenyatta, who earlier this year lost to John Fetterman in Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary, said in an interview. “Both of those are at great risk.”

Unlike groups such as Victory Fund, which are mainly focused on electing LGBTQ candidates, Agenda PAC plans to aggressively advertise against politicians they see as hostile to LGBTQ rights. The first target: Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s Republican nominee for governor.

“We are going after the beatable bigots,” Kenyatta said. “Sometimes those beatable bigots are running against incredible LGBTQ candidates. And sometimes they’re running against folks who are allies to our community.”

Mastriano, who faces Democrat Josh Shapiro in the general election, is known for his ultra-conservative views on social and cultural issues. After winning the GOP primary in May, Mastriano used a portion of his victory speech to rail against transgender people. On the first day of his administration as governor, he vowed, “You can only use the bathroom that your biology and anatomy says.”

More recently, Mastriano took aim at outgoing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive order discouraging conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth.

“This is disgusting to me, where bureaucrats and Tom Wolf and Josh Shapiro think it’s OK to come in and threaten parents and therapists because their kids might be confused,” Mastriano said last month in a radio interview on Pennsylvania’s News Talk 103.7.

Bordelon, who is based in Philadelphia, said the group’s initial budget is in the six figures with a fundraising goal that would expand efforts into the millions. After Mastriano, Agenda PAC plans to target several U.S. House races.

“This is a national effort, but we wanted to start in our backyard and then branch out,” Bordelon said. “Nationally, Mastriano is one of, if not the worst, statewide candidate when it comes to LGBTQ-plus issues.”

Celinda Lake, a prominent Democratic pollster, and Joe Trippi, a longtime Democratic consultant who most recently has worked with the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, will serve as senior advisers.

Other board members include state Sens. Shevrin Jones of Florida and Megan Hunt of Nebraska, and state Rep. Joshua Boschee of North Dakota. All are Democrats, as well as the first openly LGBTQ candidates elected to their state legislatures.

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