Democrat Danica Roem just ousted longtime incumbent Del. Robert G. Marshall (R) Tuesday, becoming the first openly transgender elected official in Virginia .
The race between Roem, 33, and Marshall, 73, focused on local issues in Prince William County but also exposed the nation’s fault lines over gender identity. It pitted a local journalist who began her physical gender transition four years ago against an outspoken social conservative who has referred to himself as Virginia’s “chief homophobe” earlier this year introduced a “bathroom bill” that died in committee.
Marshall said in a message posted on Facebook Tuesday night.
“For 26 years I’ve been proud to fight for you, and fight for our future. Though we all wish tonight would have turned out differently, I am deeply grateful for your support and effort over the years.
I’m committed to continue the fight for you, but in a different role going forward.”
A crowd of Roem supporters inside the City Tavern in Manassas erupted when Roem’s victory was announced. They cheered even louder when Democrat Northam was projected to win the governor’s seat.
While Roem campaigned mostly on local frustrations with traffic congestion, she also talked about her gender identity when asked. The race took an ugly turn when Marshall and his supporters released ads highlighting Roem’s transgender identity and referring to the Democrat with male pronouns.
In the end, that tactic failed, with Roem leading by nearly 10 percentage points with 90 percent of the vote counted, according to preliminary, unofficial results.
Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political-science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, said Roem’s victory “demonstrates good political instincts,
“Voters are far more interested in economic development and schools and transportation than they are in any cultural war in a House of Delegates district.“
There are other big wins for the LGBTQ community too, including Andrea Jenkins the first openly transgender person of color ever elected. Jenny Durkan is projected to win the mayoral race, and will make her the first lesbian mayor in Seattle and Zachary DeWolf will become Seattle’s first openly gay school board member. And Lisa Middleton made history in Palm Springs by becoming the first transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in California.
(via Washington Post)