Vermont: Can the first transgender nominee for governor be elected?

Christine Hallquist. ©Twitter

Christine Hallquist is the Democrat nominee for governor in the state of Vermont. If she wins against the Republican candidate Phil Scott, the incumbent governor, she will be the first transgender person to hold such a position in the United States.

« Tonight we made history. » That is what Christine Hallquist said the night she won the Vermont Democratic primary elections for governor on Tuesday, August 14th 2018. She faced three other candidates, she got 27 558 votes out of 57 102 and became the first openly transgender major-party nominee for governor in the history of the United States. A bombshell in the country of Donald Trump.

On her Twitter account, the 62-year-old dark blond woman defines herself as a « telemark skier, runner, piano player » and « parent of three amazing children« . Born David Hallquist in Baldwinsville, New York, she started her career as an engineer at IBM. Then she enrolled in a training program at the University of Massachussets to become an electrical engineer. She moved to Vermont to become the CEO of an electronics company and, in 1998, she started to work for the Vermont Electronique Cooperative (VEC), a consumer-owned electric distribution cooperative. Chritine Hallquist became CEO of this electric utility in 2005.

A public transition

She publicly transitioned in 2015. Her son, Derek, documented this process in a film called Denial, which made her an example: she was one of the first CEO to transition while in office. « Vermont welcomed me with open arms« , she said. Christine Hallquist quit her job to run for governor. She is supported by the LGBTQ Victory Fund. « 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 group’s president and CEO, in a statement after the results of Vermont Governor’s Primary.

Although her status of first transgender candidate drawed medias’attention, Christine Hallquist’s campaign was not just about gender and transidentity at all. The Democratic nominee promised to work toward universal primary care in Vermont and to try to pursue a « Medicare for all » system. She wants every Vermont home to be connected with Internet access through high-speed fiber optic cable. She also supports a $15 minimum wage, overdose prevention sites, and paid family leave insurance.

Are the voters ready?

Christine Hallquist’s major pitfall in the run for governor in Vermont remains the incumbent Republican governor, Phil Scott. Contrary to the Democratic candidate, he has been involved in politics since 2001. Although his popularity has tanked over the past year, he remains popular among  Democrats. His first term as Vermont governor has been marked by disputes on the education system spending. He does not want to spend more money on education and prevent increases in property tax rates.

Furthermore, some voters may not be ready to put a transgender woman in power. In an interview with the Associated Press, Christine Hallquist reported she had been getting « a steady stream of death threats and other personal attacks« . That is why  the nominee did not publicize the address of her campaign headquarters.

Marie D.

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