It's not often a primary night victory marks a major turning point for American politics. And yet, activist Sarah McBride's Tuesday night win during Delaware's primary election did just that. When McBride defeated Joseph Mccole by 82% to become the Democratic nominee to represent Delaware's 1st state senate district, she easily cleared one of the last hurdles to becoming America's first openly transgender person to serve in a state senate.
Acknowledging her unique place in American political history, McBride — who previously served as the first openly transgender person to work at the White House, interning in the Obama administration's Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs — celebrated her victory on Twitter as "a powerful signal that candidates like me can win," adding, "I will never take for granted the honor of carrying that mantle."
Although McBride hasn't been elected to public office yet, Delaware's 1st state senate district has been represented by Democrat Harris McDowell since 1977 and is expected to remain blue in November. McDowell announced last year that he would not run for reelection in 2020 after more than four decades in the state legislature.
McBride has long been a fixture in Delaware politics, including having worked for former State Attorney General Beau Biden and playing an integral role in helping pass the state's 2013 Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act.
"I especially want to thank my friend Sarah McBride, an intelligent and talented Delawarean who happens to be transgender," former Gov. Jack Markell said during remarks at the bill's signing ceremony. "She courageously stood before the General Assembly to describe her personal struggles with gender identity and communicate her desire to return home after her college graduation without fear. Her tireless advocacy for passage of this legislation has made a real difference for all transgender people in Delaware."
Markell later awarded McBride the Order of the First State, Delaware's highest honor, in 2016.
As a candidate, McBride ran on a platform of expanding health care access, criminal justice reform, and gun control legislation, describing herself on her campaign website as "fighting for dignity, equality, and a level playing field for everyone."
If elected as expected in November, McBride will follow in the footsteps of Virginia's Danica Roem, who became the first openly transgender person to serve in any state legislature in 2017. After McBride's primary win on Tuesday, Roem celebrated her victory by sharing a 2017 interview between the two, in which Roem predicted that "if anyone’s going to be the first trans senator, it’s who I’m talking to."
"Sure, I was thinking U.S. senator instead of of state senator," Roem added on the day after McBride was declared winner in her primary. "But technically, I’m about to be right."