Former energy executive Christine Hallquist has won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Vermont, moving a step closer to becoming the first ever transgender governor of a US state.
Hallquist, 62, defeated three other candidates, including 14-year-old school boy Ethan Sonneborn, to win the Democratic Party nomination on Tuesday. She will now face the incumbent Republican Governor Phil Scott in the general election in November, the US media reported.
“Tonight we made history,” Hallquist told supporters during her victory speech. “I’m so honoured to be part of this historical moment.”
Hallquist told CNN on Wednesday that she didn’t necessarily run to make history, but as a reaction to the election of Donald Trump to the White House.
“The reason I’m here is because of what happened in 2016,” she said. “In physics we say for every action there’s an opposite and opposing reaction. Well, I’m definitely a reaction to 2016.”
The development was a breakthrough of both substantial and symbolic importance for LGBTQ Americans — and particularly the trans community, which has long been shut out of the highest levels of elected office.
Three years after Oregon’s Kate Brown became the nation’s first openly bisexual governor, Democrats have now nominated what would become the nation’s first openly gay (Lupe Valdez in Texas and Jared Polis in Colorado) and transgender (Hallquist in Vermont) governors if they win in November.
Hallquist was one of more than 400 LGBTQ candidates running in this cycle.
There were also a record number of female candidates in elections for governor and for the House of Representatives.
In 2018, 43 transgender candidates ran for political office at all levels in the US. But Hallquist was the first transgender person to win a major party nomination for state governor.
Also, Ilhan Omar — a refugee from Somalia who came to the US as a teenager — won her Democratic primary in Minnesota’s fifth district. The victory puts her in a strong position to become one of the first female Muslim members of Congress in November.
Omar will likely join Rashida Tlaib, who won a Democratic primary in Michigan last week. Both were expected to easily win their general elections in safe Democratic districts.