Christine Hallquist Becomes First Transgender Candidate For Governor In The U.S.

Vermont Democrats nominated a transgender woman for Governor yesterday but she faces long odds in November.

Vermont Democrat Christine Hallquist won her primary race last night to become the first transgender American to be the nominee of a major party for Governor:

BURLINGTON, Vt. — On a cloudy afternoon this summer, Christine Hallquist, a former utility executive from Vermont, listened closely as Danica Roem, the Virginia state delegate who won national recognition when she became the first transgender person elected to her state’s Legislature, offered tips as the pair canvassed a stark residential neighborhood here.

Ms. Hallquist is transgender, too, but Ms. Roem’s advice had nothing to do with gender identity. Try a light, rhythmic knock. Leave a handwritten note with campaign literature if no one is home. Try to earn every vote.

“I have so much to learn,” Ms. Hallquist said, duly incorporating Ms. Roem’s lessons with each new knock.

On Tuesday, those lessons paid off, and Ms. Hallquist, a Democrat, made history of her own. She became the first transgender candidate to be nominated for a governorship by a major party, beating three other candidates in Vermont’s Democratic primary, according to The Associated Press.

“Tonight, we made history,” Ms. Hallquist said, addressing supporters at an election night party in Burlington. She added, “I am so proud to be the face of the Democrats tonight.”

It is a remarkable milestone, even for an election year already dominated by an influx of women and a record number of candidates who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender or queer.

“Christine’s victory is a defining moment in the movement for trans equality and is especially remarkable given how few out trans elected officials there are at any level of government,” said Annise Parker, the chief executive of the L.G.B.T.Q. Victory Fund, which trains and supports gay and transgender candidates, in a statement on Tuesday evening. “Yet Vermont voters chose Christine not because of her gender identity, but because she is an open and authentic candidate with a long history of service to the state, and who speaks to the issues most important to voters.”

Ms. Hallquist was not the only transgender candidate on the ballot in the country in recent days. In Hawaii on Saturday, Kim Coco Iwamoto, a lawyer, lost her bid to be the Democrats’ nominee for lieutenant governor.

And more transgender candidates will be on the ballot soon, including Alexandra Chandler, a former naval intelligence analyst who is running in Massachusetts’s Third District. Ms. Chandler is trying to differentiate herself in a crowded congressional primary in early September by emphasizing both her national security bona fides and the historic nature of her candidacy. “I’m running for Congress,” she said in a recent campaign video, “to be a voice for trans kids out there.”

Notwithstanding her historic win, Hallquist faces an uphill battle if she is going to win in November even in a state such as Vermont. The incumbent Republican Governor, Phil Scott, has been in office since winning the 2016 election and has had a relatively successful first term in office. Because of that, all of the rating agencies currently rate the race as either solidly or safely Republican. It’s possible, of course, that this could change in the future, but as things stand right now it seems unlikely that Hallquist will be successful in her bid for higher office. Nonetheless, the fact that she managed to win the election at all is significant and is yet another sign of that 2018 is likely to be the beginning of a demographic shift in the political world that will see women, Latino, and LGBT candidates succeed far more than they have in the past. All in all, that’s a good thing, and if Hallquist does end up losing one hopes she doesn’t give up on trying to have an impact on American politics.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Quick Takes, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Pearce says:

    “Tonight, we made history,” Ms. Hallquist said

    Um….no, you didn’t.

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  2. Jen says:

    @James Pearce: She is the first transgender person to win a major party nomination to statewide office–that is a historical milestone of sorts, isn’t it?

    Yes, actually winning the race in November would be ‘more historical,’ if that’s a logical phrase to use. But like Geraldine Ferraro being the first woman on a major party national ticket, or Hillary Clinton being the first at the top of the ticket, the historical political record is a series of steps/markers.

    I have a number of friends who live in Vermont–generally speaking, they seem happy-ish with their current governor, so I’m not expecting an upset in November, but it isn’t completely outside of the realm of possibility.

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  3. James Pearce says:

    @Jen:

    She is the first transgender person to win a major party nomination to statewide office–that is a historical milestone of sorts, isn’t it?

    I don’t think so. What’s the accomplishment?

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  4. Jen says:

    @James Pearce:

    What’s the accomplishment?

    Well, first I will note that landing in the historical record doesn’t necessarily require an accomplishment. The explosion of the space shuttle was historical, but I wouldn’t describe that as an “accomplishment.” It was an event, certainly. The first legal gay marriage in the US is also historical, but I’m not sure deciding to get married is an “accomplishment.”

    But, on to this specific instance, I would suggest that the accomplishment was that a transgender person ran for office, and through hard work succeeded, despite a still fairly high level of societal bias against and/or suspicion of transgender individuals. In other words, her nomination is historical because it changes the calculus going forward. Same with Ferraro–her nomination was historical. Etc.

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  5. James Pearce says:

    @Jen:

    I would suggest that the accomplishment was that a transgender person ran for office, and through hard work succeeded, despite a still fairly high level of societal bias against and/or suspicion of transgender individuals.

    To counter, I would suggest the accomplishment is to get elected and use her term to implement policies that help the people of Vermont.

    I know we’re all trained to think in narratives and arcs, but perhaps we need to make the criteria for “making history” a little stouter than “won the primary while trans.” I presume anyone else in her position would have had to win the primary while being who they are too.

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  6. James Joyner says:

    @James Pearce: Your position here seems deliberately obtuse. There are different levels of “made history.” Is being the first trans person to win a major party gubernatorial nomination of comparable significance to, say, curing polio or splitting the atom? No. But it’s probably of higher significance than, say, being the first Greek-American to win a major party nomination.

    In the grand scheme of things, Geraldine Ferraro is a mere footnote to history. Hillary Clinton is a paragraph or two. Barack Obama is a chapter. But they’re all historical figures in a way that you and I are not.

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  7. Jen says:

    @James Pearce Well, the interesting thing is, we don’t randomly get to redefine what is or is not considered historical. Making history will always be marked with “firsts,” whether they are major or minor firsts, because it is at that point that–as I noted in an earlier comment–the calculus going forward changes.

    So whether it’s the first person to walk on the moon, the first woman to be on a national party ticket, the first Muslim in Congress, the first Catholic to win the presidency, or, yes, the first transgender person to win a statewide nomination, “firsts” count.

    That you don’t care for it or think these aren’t sufficient bars is neither here nor there.

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  8. Tyrell says:

    @Jen: I thought these people wanted to be treated like everyone else.

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  9. Jen says:

    @Tyrell: “These people”?

    Bless your heart.

    My guess is that you are trying to be cute or clever with that (it didn’t work).

    The two of you seem to have a warped sense of what the historical record should consist of–it should either reflect what YOU think is noteworthy, or, apparently, only those who seek out a position in it.

    That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

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  10. James Pearce says:

    @James Joyner:

    Your position here seems deliberately obtuse.

    And yet it seems to me that celebrating a candidate as “historic” for something as simple and mundane as being nominated strikes me as little more than self-aggrandizing back-patting in a world where the “powers that be” are by all accounts wretched people doing terrible things.

    Trump is not only engaged in full-on political retaliation against his “enemies” (including the press), but he may be compromised by a foreign power and running an active skim/money laundering operation.

    And yet what animates the opposition? This parade of “historical” firsts.

    @Jen:

    So whether it’s the first person to walk on the moon, the first woman to be on a national party ticket, the first Muslim in Congress, the first Catholic to win the presidency, or, yes, the first transgender person to win a statewide nomination, “firsts” count.

    Firsts count, but not for much. Columbus gets honored by a whole day, but it was all these other Europeans that colonized the Americas.

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  11. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    Trump is not only engaged in full-on political retaliation against his “enemies” (including the press), but he may be compromised by a foreign power and running an active skim/money laundering operation.

    And yet what animates the opposition? This parade of “historical” firsts.

    You think we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

    Of course Trump’s authoritarian push and destruction of the international order motivate people. And the significance of a transgender person achieving a major-party gubernatorial nomination in an America where this just happened does, too. Not in the same way, not at the same level, but each is important in its own way.

    You’re doing that thing again where you pick a single liberal position and then pretend it’s the only thing that motivates liberals. It’s getting pretty old.

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  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    Your position here seems deliberately obtuse.

    Pearce is nearly always obtuse. I suspect it is unintentional.

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  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    My home state always makes me proud as fvck.

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  14. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    You think we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

    If I thought that liberals were capable of using identity politics to pursue liberal policies, I wouldn’t be making these old, tired criticisms. But it seems to me that the left has decided to double down on identity politics and is barely even interested in pursuing liberal policies.

    So to me it’s not a case of diligently working on two side-by-side projects, but a case of focusing on the unimportant/non-urgent and completely shirking the important/urgent.

    Flint still doesn’t have clean water.

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  15. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    But it seems to me that the left has decided to double down on identity politics and is barely even interested in pursuing liberal policies.

    Meanwhile, in the real world…

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  16. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey: A Vox headline that screams “Elizabeth Warren has a plan to save capitalism” is not what I would consider to be a missive from the “real world.”

    That said, Warren is exactly the kind of legislator we need. I’ve only read a few things about this bill specifically, but have you heard about the Warren/Gardner marijuana bill? I like everything about that: the issue, the approach, the reaching across the aisle. It should be a template for how to move forward, legislatively.

    (Also, Warren kind of knows what’s going to happen if she relies too heavily on her biography so it’s nice to watch her do some heavy lifting here.)

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  17. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: So the issue isn’t that liberals are, contrary to your assertion, actively pursuing liberal policies, but…the source of the article I put up?

    *eyeroll* Whatever.

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  18. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey: Speaking of eye rolls…..

    No, the issue is the continuing Democratic focus on biography over all other concerns, and how a candidate who is not expected to win her election can be considered “making history” not by doing, but by being.

    (I take it you haven’t heard of the Warren/Gardner bill and just want to clown on me like all the rest.)

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  19. Jen says:

    @James Pearce: I think we need a refresher in what is an opinion versus what is a fact.

    continuing Democratic focus on biography over all other concerns

    This is your opinion. I do not share this opinion, and I am a Democrat. I think that there are plenty of candidates out there who are running campaigns based on ideas and policies, and they are winning their primaries.

    how a candidate who is not expected to win her election can be considered “making history” not by doing, but by being.

    Again, more forcefully this time: “making history” is a series of FIRSTS. She is the first over that particular, small, and soon-to-be-forgotten line. You don’t get to choose what is history and what isn’t. Nor do I. It’s a simple fact. First trans candidate to win a statewide nomination is [NAME] (Christine Hallquist). It could have been another name, perhaps two years from now–but it ISN’T.

    Let’s play this another way. If, in 20 years a contestant on Jeopardy says “I’ll take statewide political races for $600,” and the screen reads “First trans candidate to win a statewide nomination,” there is ONLY ONE possible answer. That you find it trivial rather than historical has to do with your personal biases. It is, however, now a fact.

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  20. James Pearce says:

    @Jen:

    That you find it trivial rather than historical has to do with your personal biases.

    This is how I’m biased: I think Dems should be nominating candidates who can win elections. I don’t care if they’re a historical “first” from some sub-demo. God, I just realized something…..that makes me a monster.

    (Jeopardy answers are trivia, by the way.)

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  21. Jen says:

    @James Pearce:

    Dems should be nominating candidates who can win elections.

    You realize she still can win that election, right? It might not be likely, given the relative popularity of the current governor, but the numbers in Vermont are pretty decent to Democrats, which is exactly why Bernie does that sham move of running as a Dem in the primary only to decline the nomination for the general and run as an independent.

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  22. James Pearce says:

    @Jen:

    You realize she still can win that election, right?

    All of the pollsters I’ve seen have the Vermont race in the “Safe Republican” category. My guess is that VT Dems knew the gov’s mansion was out of reach, so they opted to make a kind of statement instead.

    In other words, more virtue signaling.

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