- The Magazine
Delaware State Senator-elect Sarah McBride made history on Tuesday, Nov. 3, when she became the first openly transgender person to win a seat in the upper chamber of a state legislature. McBride, the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, bested her Republican opponent, Steve Washington, winning Delaware’s 1st Senate District seat by a nearly 3:1 margin.
“More than anything else, I’m grateful,” McBride told Metro Weekly on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m grateful to the residents of the First Senate district for entrusting me with the responsibility of representing them in the Delaware State Senate. I’m grateful to the team of supporters, volunteers and neighbors who put time, energy and effort into this campaign.
“And I’m grateful for the opportunity ahead of me to help contribute to meaningful progress here in Delaware, to ensure that we not only recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis, but that we learn the lessons from this moment and meet this challenge with real results for Delaware families.”
McBride says she never ran with the intent of making “history or headlines,” only to bring about change to her community. “I am certainly mindful of the message that this race sends to a young person here in Delaware or elsewhere who is struggling with their place in the world,” she says. “Hopefully these results provide them a little bit of comfort that our democracy is big enough for them, too.
“But that message wasn’t set by me. That message was sent by the voters of this district, who have time and time again demonstrated that they are looking at candidates based on their ideas and their experience, not on their identities. The biggest takeaway from this race for me is the goodness and compassion and kindness of the voters of this district, something I’ve known all my life.”
A self-described progressive, McBride has centered her campaign around access to health care, expanding paid leave, universal preschool, and criminal justice reform. On the health care front, she was particularly inspired by her experience with her late husband, Andrew Cray, who died at age 28 from cancer in 2014, days after they were married.
“I’ve sought every single day to do right by Andy, to make Andy proud,” she says. “Every morning I woke up and asked myself, ‘What would Andy do?’ And in many ways, his example, his leadership on health care, and his work as an advocate not only educated me and informed me on this issue, but instilled in me a strong understanding that, as Andy would say, ‘Health care is the first right.’ If you aren’t able to get the care you need when illness strikes, if you aren’t able to get the care that you need as you live your life, then few other rights matter, because you might not end up being able to live at all.
“We know that public health is the foundation upon which everything else is possible, because if we don’t have healthy communities, we can’t have strong communities and vibrant communities and growing communities and prosperous communities,” she adds. “And that’s something that Andy always knew and always fought for. And for me, it certainly has guided my work and informed my campaign.”
McBride also intends to use her power as a state lawmaker to push back against any attempts by the federal government, whether it comes from the Oval Office, a Republican-led U.S. Senate, or even the U.S. Supreme Court, to rescind or undermine rights.
“One of the reasons I ran for state legislature is I saw firsthand in my work that state legislatures are the place where the rubber meets the road on public policy, where most of the issues that matter to us are handled on a day-to-day basis,” she says.
“I believe that one of the responsibilities I have in the Delaware State Senate is to protect the residents of the First Senate district from any discriminatory or dangerous attacks on our health care, on our rights, on our social safety net, or any of the support structures of rights that we cherish in our communities. And state legislatures are uniquely positioned and uniquely empowered to serve as the safeguards of democracy.”
Follow Sarah McBride on Twitter at @SarahEMcBride.
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