SALT LAKE CITY – Democrat Misty K. Snow claimed victory in the primary election Tuesday night and stands as Utah’s first transgendered candidate for the U.S. Senate. It also makes her the first transgendered person in the country to be nominated for a congressional position by a major political party.
Snow leads opponent Jonathan Swinton by nearly 19 percentage points in the unofficial primary vote totals. Statewide, she garnered 27,138 votes – 59.42 percent of the vote – to Swinton’s 18,530.
In Washington County, Snow led Swinton by 680 votes to 561, gaining 54.79 percent of the county vote. Vote tallies are subject to change within the coming days as mail-in ballots continue to pour in.
The primary between Snow and Swinton is the first Utah Democrats have held since 1992.
Swinton, a marriage and family therapist, was initially the only Democrat vying to unseat Republican Sen. Mike Lee. However, shortly before the candidate filing deadline, Snow appeared on the scene and eventually forced Swinton into a primary at the Democratic state convention in April.
Swinton, who has described himself as a conservative Democrat, said he would be a centrist and use his skills as a counselor to mediate while in congress and bring opposing sides together. However, his views on abortion have been picked at by Snow, who said during a debate in St. George that the Democratic Party didn’t want someone who was against abortion as their “standard bearer.”
Swinton officially conceded the race Wednesday morning and released the following statement:
I appreciate all those who came out in support of my campaign I thank my family, my campaign staff, and the generous donors who helped make this run possible. I am disappointed with the results, but congratulate Misty K. Snow on her victory.
I am pleased I could foster a discussion on the need to restore cooperation to the legislative process in Washington. We must address the dysfunctional approaches that have become the norm from our legislators. I hope that Ms. Snow and Mr. Lee will focus more on reaching common ground than on extreme ideology so we can represent Utahns better moving forward and restore productivity to the United States Senate.
The 30-year-old Snow, of Salt Lake City, has said she hopes to represent the working class in congress, adding that the body of federal lawmakers has become full of rich elitists. Snow herself works as a grocery store clerk.
Among the issues Snow’s campaign centered around are a $15 minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, criminal justice reform, tuition-free college, climate change, health care and LGBT equality.
Snow touts herself as a progressive in the same vein as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and seeks to tap the millennial vote.
“I speak to the issues they care about, such as affordable college or a living wage – that’s going to get them to the polls,” Snow said following a debate with Swinton in St. George earlier this month.
Following her apparent victory in the primary election, Snow released the following statement:
Today we have earned a major victory. We have shown that voters will turn out in numbers to support progressive candidates that take strong stands on issues. I want to thank all the wonderful people of Utah who supported me in the Democratic primary; without your support none of this would have been possible …
While I’m not running on the basis of being a trans woman, my experiences as a trans woman have given me the empathy to understand the struggles of groups that feel that the American Dream is out of reach. I’m running to give a voice to the voiceless.
Due to her being the first transgendered person to receive the nomination of a major party for congress, Snow is hoping that helps build name-recognition and aids in fundraising needed to help run a campaign against Lee in the general election.
Ed. Note: Updated to June 29, 2016, to include the statement from Jonathan Swinton.
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