Democratic primary voters elected two transgender women in Utah and Colorado to be their party’s nominees to Congress Tuesday night, making them among the first transgender candidates of a major party to seek seats in the U.S. House and Senate.
Misty Snow, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Utah, won by a nearly 19-point margin over primary opponent Jonathan Swinton to claim her party’s nomination, the Salt Lake Tribune reported, despite a delegate vote at the state Democratic convention that suggested he had the lead. Snow campaigned to Swinton’s left on several progressive issues, including the minimum wage.
She is the first transgender Senate candidate of a major party and released a statement on her website Tuesday night that called her win “a historic day for the LGBT community.”
“While I’m not running on the basis of being a trans woman, my experiences as a trans woman have given me the empathy to understand the struggles of groups that feel that the American Dream is out of reach,” Snow said in her statement. “I’m running to give a voice to the voiceless.”
Snow, who is 30 and currently works as a grocery store cashier, would also be the chamber’s youngest senator if elected.
In Colorado, Misty Plowright, 33, also beat her rival in a House Democratic primary by more than 3,000 votes Tuesday night. Plowright, an Army veteran and former Microsoft employee, ran as a “passionate social democrat” according to her website and will face five-term Rep. Doug Lamborn in November.
But Plowright is not the first transgender House candidate to win a major party’s backing. In 2000, Karen Kerin won the Republican Party’s nomination for a U.S. House seat representing Vermont. Kerin, who died in 2014, lost overwhelmingly to then-Rep. Bernie Sanders, who now represents the state in the U.S. Senate.
Both Snow and Plowright face uphill bids against the Republican incumbents in the seat. Lamborn represents Colorado’s 5th congressional district, which is the most conservative district in the state, Politico reported. Snow’s opponent Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, won with more than 60 percent of the vote in 2010.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said both Snow and Plowright would be the first transgender candidates of a major party to seek seats in the U.S. House and Senate. Snow is the first Senate candidate, but Plowright was preceded by Karen Kerin of Vermont in 2000.