When Danica Roem first announced she was running for the Virginia House of Delegates 10 months ago, she vowed to have a laser-like focus on the issues that mattered to the people she hoped to represent. She wasn’t running to be an historic “first” or to focus on social issues — she was going to talk about transportation, education, and economic development. And then she set about proving that.
“This victory is the result of a lot of work,” Roem said after defeating 13-term Republican incumbent Bob Marshall on Tuesday night. “This is the result of 75,000 doors knocked. This is the result of people coming in from all over the 13th District and from all over the country, who believed in a message of building up infrastructure instead of tearing down each other.”
Despite Marshall — known for his dogged fixation on social issues — misgendering her, calling into question her motivations for running, and accusing her of wanting to teach transgenderism to young children, Roem refused to stoop to his level.
Instead, she redoubled her canvassing efforts, knocking on doors and calling people at home to share her plans for fixing the infamous Route 28, her plans to bring jobs to her district, and her plan for higher teacher pay in order to retain the best and the brightest in Prince William County, where teachers are underpaid relative to their counterparts in the surrounding counties.
“In this race, [our campaign] never went personal,” she said from her victory party in Lake Ridge, Va. “We hit on public policy, and we stuck to the issues of this race. I said, after the June primary, that this race was a referendum on fixing Route 28. If anybody thinks I’m going to have something else as my lead priority, they are sorely mistaken.”
That said, Roem also acknowledges that her victory — particularly against someone as vehemently opposed to LGBTQ equality as Marshall — is something noteworthy that can potentially inspire others to run for elective office in the future. When she takes the oath of office next January, her mere presence in the House of Delegates will serve as a symbol to other transgender people, particularly youth, showing them that, they, too, have a place, even in the nation’s oldest legislative body.
“This is a win for inclusion, for equality, for equity, and for every trans kid who was ever too scared to ever speak their truth, and anyone who was worried about whether they could succeed by being themselves,” Roem says. “We just showed that no matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, who you love, how you identify, or how you rock, if you have good ideas, and if you’re qualified, then bring them to the table because you can serve, too.”