Middleton again announces intention to seek State Senate seat; this time in newly drawn District 19

The former Palm Springs mayor made history in 2017 when she was elected to the City Council, becoming the first out transgender person in California ever elected to a non-judicial position.
Palm Springs City Councilmember Lisa Middleton.

Palm Springs City Councilmember Lisa Middleton has once again announced her candidacy for the California State Senate, making it official in a news release Tuesday. If she wins, she would again make history.

Déjà vu: The last time Middleton announced she was running for a seat in Sacramento — in October 2021 — it was for District 28. But after that district was redrawn by a state commission, the election was postponed from 2022 to 2024. 

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State of play: The former District 28, which was represented by Republican Melissa Melendez, included the entire Coachella Valley as well as an area from Lake Elsinore to Temecula. The newly drawn District 19 no longer encompasses Indio and Coachella but does include a large portion of the state’s High Desert as well as Lake Arrowhead.

Context: Middleton made history in 2017 when she was elected to the Palm Springs City Council, becoming the first out transgender person in California history elected to a non-judicial position. She ran unopposed in 2020 for a term that expires in December 2024. The District 5 representative served as mayor in 2022.

  • If she succeeds in her campaign for the state level office she would be the first openly transgender legislator in California history.

Looking back: Before her election to the City Council, Middleton served on the city’s Planning Commission and chaired the Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS). She is retired after a 36 year-career with California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund.

What they’re saying: “I’m running to make a difference in Sacramento and be an effective voice for the 19th District by fighting for pragmatic, common-sense solutions that will improve the lives of all Californians,” Middleton said in a statement. “I’m not running to represent the blue team or the red team — I’m running to represent the people of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.”

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