Metro Weekly

Democrats make history with first transgender nominees for Congress

Senate candidate Misty Snow and House candidate Misty Plowright are running as progressives in conservative territory

Congressional candidates Misty Snow (left) and Misty Plowright (Photos via Facebook).
Congressional candidates Misty Snow (left) and Misty Plowright (Photos via Facebook).

Democrats in Utah and Colorado have nominated two transgender women to run for seats in the U.S. Congress — a historic first for both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Misty Snow, a 30-year-old grocery store clerk from Salt Lake City, will run against Tea Party Republican Sen. Mike Lee. Misty Plowright, a 33-year-old who works in IT, will run in the Colorado Springs-based 5th Congressional District, Politico reports.

Snow won her primary in an upset bid for the Senate seat, garnering enough votes at the Democratic Party’s nominating convention to force a primary election contest against Jonathan Swinton, a 35-year-old marriage therapist. Swinton, who is Mormon, described himself as a centrist, conservative Democrat — usually the only type of Democrat able to hold office in Republican-leaning Utah.

But Snow contrasted her positions with Swinton, criticizing him for his backing of limits on abortion, while also embracing several progressive policy positions such as a $15 per hour minimum wage, paid family leave, and free or reduced tuition for higher education, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. She eventually ended up winning by 59 percent to 41 percent.

“A lot of people have told me whether I win or lose, I’m already making a difference just by running,” Snow told the Tribune.

Of course, she’s not the first LGBT candidate to be embraced by Utah voters. Out lesbian Jackie Biskupski was elected mayor of Salt Lake City in November. Salt Lake City voters have also previously cast their votes for State Sen. Jim Dabakis (D), the only openly gay member of the legislature, and Derek Kitchen, a member of the Salt Lake City Council.

In Colorado, Plowright fended off a primary challenge from Donald Martinez, a former U.S. Army veteran and self-described “urban farmer,” by a 58-42 margin. She now faces incumbent U.S. Rep Doug Lamborn, one of the more conservative members of the state’s congressional delegation.  Plowright faces stiff odds — the Cook Political Report rates District 5 voters as generally likely to favor a Republican candidate by a 15-point margin more than the nation as a whole.

Like Snow, Plowright, who is herself an Army veteran, mounted a campaign criticizing the Democratic Party for “selling itself to the highest bidder,” and alleging that it has forgotten its history as the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal. Among some of her more progressive stances are a call for a ban on fracking for natural gas, spending defense dollars more wisely, supporting abortion rights, and opposing cuts to Social Security.

In a Facebook post, Plowright announced her own victory while congratulating Snow on hers.

“Congratulations from #TeamMisty to another progressive candidate in Utah, Misty K Snow. Both women made history last night by winning their Democratic Primary…. Congratulations!!!”

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