State Rep. Brian Sims, a progressive Democrat from Center City, on Monday entered the 2022 race to become Pennsylvania’s next lieutenant governor.
Sims, who was the first openly-gay candidate to be elected to the state legislature in 2012, made the announcement in a video posted on Twitter.
Pennsylvania’s current lieutenant governor, Democrat John Fetterman, said last week that he will be running for U.S. Senate in what is expected to be a highly competitive contest to replace Sen. Pat Toomey.
Sims, in an interview with Metro, said Fetterman showed a progressive could win a statewide race in Pennsylvania, which is split fairly evenly along ideological lines.
He noted that his first job is appealing to party members during the run-up to the primary.
The lieutenant governor is president of the state senate, a mostly nominal position, and chairs the Board of Pardons. They also typically play a role in some departments and take on special initiatives.
If the governor is incapacitated or dies, the lieutenant governor assumes his duties.
Unlike the federal presidency, lieutenant governors are elected separately from the governor and can belong to a different political party. Gov. Tom Wolf will be term-limited in 2022, setting up another potentially crowded race.
Sims, 42, said if elected, he would focus on reproductive rights for women, racial justice, LGBTQ rights and criminal justice reform.
“All of those are issues that have defined my career in politics and my time as an advocate and activist beforehand,” added Sims, whose district covers Center City and parts of South Philadelphia.
In 2019, he made headlines after he was accused of bullying anti-abortion protesters outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Center City.
Sims filmed himself angrily confronting the demonstrators, and, at one point, he offered $100 to viewers who could identify a group of teenage girls. He later apologized for the incident.
“I overstepped my bounds when I did it, and I learned a lot from it,” he said Monday. “I’m tired of people in powerful positions that don’t know how to apologize for mistakes that they make and learn from them, and I’m not one of those people.”
The episode resurfaced on social media following his campaign announcement, with conservatives taking shots at Sims.
Prior to his time in the state legislature, Sims worked as staff counsel for policy and planning at the Philadelphia Bar Association. He was previously a disability attorney and served as a law clerk at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
While playing football at Bloomsburg University in 2000, Sims disclosed his sexuality to his teammates, becoming the first NCAA football captain to ever publicly come out.
If successful, he would not be the first Philadelphian in recent history to serve as lieutenant governor.
Northeast Philly politician Mike Stack ascended to the position in 2015 but was crushed in his reelection bid after his relationship with Wolf soured.