Delaware State Sen. Sarah McBride, the highest ranking trans elected official in the United States, announced her candidacy for Congress on Monday morning. McBride’s campaign begins, officially, on a historic day in the LGBT community: June 26th is the anniversary of three landmark Supreme Court decisions: Lawrence v. Texas, Windsor v. United States and Obergefell v. Hodges. If elected, McBride would be the first openly transgender person to serve in the U.S. House.
“My commitment is to people in Delaware who aren’t seen, who don’t shout the loudest or fund political campaigns,” McBride said in her opening campaign salvo. “Everyone deserves a member of Congress who sees them and who respects them.”
I’m excited to share that I'm running for Congress!
In Delaware, we’ve proven that small states can do BIG things. It’s time to do it again. 🧵
— Sen. Sarah McBride (@SarahEMcBride) June 26, 2023
In political terms, McBride’s run had been widely anticipated. Last month, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) announced that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester — who represents the entire state in its one House district — was the consensus candidate to replace him. With Blunt Rochester’s seat open, talk quickly turned to who might replace her and McBride was an early favorite.
McBride has a long resume in Democratic politics: serving as an intern in the Obama White House and working for former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and the late Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden before launching her own political career in 2019. She ran and won election to the State Senate, with over 70 percent of the general election vote. She was reelected in 2022, this time unopposed. She was the first trans person to speak at a major party’s national convention when she addressed the DNC in 2016.
Though Delaware’s At-Large seat is considered safely Democratic, McBride’s path to the nomination may not be easy. Delaware’s state treasurer, Colleen Davis, and state insurance commissioner, Trinidad Navarro, are also said to be considering runs. Kerri Evelyn Harris, who ran against Carper in 2018, might also be considering a run. If Harris’ run would also be historic: she’d be vying to be the first out black lesbian in the House.
While traditional Democratic politics might dictate that McBride running for higher office was a no-brainer, to do so, in this moment — where the backlash to trans visibility is so severe and where trans public officials have been targets of so much hatred — is a risk. McBride wouldn’t be a long-shot, she’ll be a frontrunner, and she’d likely have the backing of the incumbent president… which will only make her more of a target. No one would’ve blamed her if she sat this one out and continued her work in the State Senate, on behalf of her 50,000 neighbors.
But instead, McBride took her own advice, recalling what she wrote in 2012, when she came out in an op-ed for her college newspaper: “I now know that my dreams and my identity are only mutually exclusive if I don’t try.”
And so she’s trying… trying to become one of 435 members of the US House… and trying to make a little history along the way.