August 1, 2016 at 6:21 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Utah Democrat seeks to become first trans U.S. senator

Misty Snow, gay news, Washington Blade

Misty Snow, left, speaks to members of the Democratic National Committee Transgender Caucus in Philadelphia on July 28, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

PHILADELPHIA — A Utah Democrat would become the first transgender person elected to the U.S. Senate if she were to defeat U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in November.

Misty Snow told the Washington Blade during an interview at the Democratic National Convention that she defeated Jonathan Swinton in Utah’s Democratic primary on June 28 by an 18.8 percent margin. Snow, 31, said she hopes that her fellow millennials will vote for her in the general election.

“We’re hoping to really excite millennials this election,” she said.

Snow is the first trans person to win the Senate primary of a major political party.

She said that she thought Bernie Sanders “was the best candidate” for president. Snow, who spoke with the Blade hours before Hillary Clinton delivered her speech on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, acknowledged the former secretary of state could make history as the country’s first female president.

“That’s a great moment in our history . . . to celebrate and to acknowledge,” said Snow.

Campaign highlights working-class roots

Snow on her campaign website notes that she was raised in “a lower income family.”

“Misty understands the needs of working people and their families,” says her campaign. “She is concerned by the degree of income inequality in this country: Particularly how it disproportionately impacts women, people of color and the LGBT community.”

Snow referenced her working-class roots when she spoke at the first-ever meeting of trans delegates to the Democratic National Convention that took place on July 28 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

“I try to make the case I am the candidate who’s going to sand up for working class people,” she said. “I understand what it’s like to be a working class person myself.”

Snow notes on her website that she supports “an employment non-discrimination act in Congress that would protect the rights of LGBT people to work.” She does not mention the Equality Act, which would amend federal civil rights law to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Snow supports what she describes as “thorough” background checks “at every point of sale for every gun.” A $15 minimum wage and the legalization of marijuana are among the other issues that she supports.

Snow criticizes Lee over 2013 government shutdown

Only 38 percent of independent voters who responded to a poll the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics conducted in January said they supported Lee. A poll that SurveyUSA conducted before the June 28 primary showed Lee was ahead of Snow by a 51-37 percent margin.

Snow told the Blade that Utahans are “upset” with Lee over his role in the 2013 federal government shutdown.

She noted the federal government is Utah’s largest employer. Snow told the Blade the shutdown — which closed national parks and monuments and forests — hurt the state’s tourism industry.

“He hurt hundreds of thousands of people with that in Utah, a lot of them Republicans,” she said.

Snow also criticized Lee for voting against $220 million in federal aid that would have helped mitigate the impact of the Flint, Mich., water crisis.

“In Utah we really value children, we really value families,” Snow told the Blade. “A lot of people cannot understand why he would block help to children and families who are drinking contaminated water.”

Victory Fund yet to endorse in Snow’s race

Stonewall Democrats of Utah, the Young Democrats of Utah and the Utah Democratic Progressive Caucus are among the groups that have backed Snow’s campaign. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund has yet to issue an endorsement in her race.

“I don’t really know,” said Snow in response to the Blade’s question about why the Victory Fund has yet to endorse her. “I think they don’t think Utah is competitive, but that’s because they don’t understand Utah politics.”

Victory Fund Director of Communications Elliot Imse on Monday responded to Snow’s comments in a statement to the Blade.

“Victory is thrilled Misty Snow is the first openly transgender person to win the Senate primary of a major political party,” said Imse. “Transgender representation is badly needed in Congress, and her voice could make a significant impact on how her colleagues understand and vote on LGBT equality issues.”

Imse added the Victory Fund is “in-touch with” Snow’s campaign and “expects to receive her application for endorsement in the coming days.”

“Our Campaign Board will review the application quickly given the historical significance of Ms. Snow’s candidacy,” Imse told the Blade.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • “Victory Fund yet to endorse in Snow’s race”

    That’s because the VF is run by people who live in the real world. They don’t waste endorsements and money on candidates who have zero chance of winning elections.

    That’s what the HRC is for.

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