New faces to bring new diversity to Virginia lawmakers

AP

Print Article

  • Danica Roem, center, who ran for house of delegates against GOP incumbent Robert Marshall, is greeted by supporters as she prepares to give her victory speech with Prince William County Democratic Committee at Water's End Brewery on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Manassas, Va. Roem will be the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the United States. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via AP)

  • 1

    Danica Roem, center, a Democrat who ran for Virginia's House of Delegates against GOP incumbent Robert Marshall, is greeted by supporters as she prepares to give her victory speech Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Manassas, Va. Roem, a former journalist, is set to make history as the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the United States. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via AP)

  • 2

    Danica Roem, who is running for house of delegates against GOP incumbent Robert Marshall, campaigns as voters take to the ballot boxes at Gainesville Middle School on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Gainesville, Va. If Roem wins, she would be the first transgender legislator elected in the USA. (Jahi Chikwendiu /The Washington Post via AP)

  • 3

    Danica Roem, who ran for house of delegates against GOP incumbent Robert Marshall, is greeted by supporters as she prepares to give her victory speech with Prince William County Democratic Committee at Water's End Brewery on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Manassas, Va. Roem will be the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the United States. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via AP)

  • Danica Roem, center, who ran for house of delegates against GOP incumbent Robert Marshall, is greeted by supporters as she prepares to give her victory speech with Prince William County Democratic Committee at Water's End Brewery on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Manassas, Va. Roem will be the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the United States. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via AP)

  • 1

    Danica Roem, center, a Democrat who ran for Virginia's House of Delegates against GOP incumbent Robert Marshall, is greeted by supporters as she prepares to give her victory speech Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Manassas, Va. Roem, a former journalist, is set to make history as the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the United States. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via AP)

  • 2

    Danica Roem, who is running for house of delegates against GOP incumbent Robert Marshall, campaigns as voters take to the ballot boxes at Gainesville Middle School on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Gainesville, Va. If Roem wins, she would be the first transgender legislator elected in the USA. (Jahi Chikwendiu /The Washington Post via AP)

  • 3

    Danica Roem, who ran for house of delegates against GOP incumbent Robert Marshall, is greeted by supporters as she prepares to give her victory speech with Prince William County Democratic Committee at Water's End Brewery on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Manassas, Va. Roem will be the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the United States. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Danica Roem, a transgender woman whose defeat of an outspoken, socially conservative lawmaker has made news around the world, is just one of several women making history in this week's Virginia elections.

The state House is also getting its first Latina members, its first Asian-American woman delegate and likely its first openly lesbian member.

Altogether, at least 10 new Democratic women will be joining the 100-member House, which previously had only 17 female members. That number could tick up as races that were too close to call go through recounts. Observers say the new diversity could represent a sea change for the chamber, control of which was still up in the air Wednesday.

"The General Assembly will truly look more like this state than ever before," said Julie Copeland, executive director of Emerge Virginia, which helps prepare Democratic women to run for office and trained nine of the winners.

Among Emerge's trainees are Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala, who will be the first Latina members of the House, representing northern Virginia districts. Though the state's population is about 9 percent Hispanic, the House currently has only one Latino delegate. Both Guzman and Ayala unseated incumbents.

Kathy Tran, who defeated Republican Lolita Mancheno-Smoak to win an open northern Virginia seat, will be the first Asian-American woman delegate. And Dawn Adams, who claimed victory Wednesday night after Richmond-area incumbent G.M. "Manoli" Loupassi conceded in a race that had been too close to call, is expected to be the first openly lesbian state legislator.

Charniele Herring, chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, said the diversity will play out during the legislative session on issues like health care and paid family leave.

"We're looking forward to making progress on these issues with a more diverse chamber," she said.

Roem said that with Democrat Ralph Northam in the governor's mansion and what may be a Democratic majority in the House, lawmakers shouldn't even think about introducing discriminatory legislation.

"Don't bother," she said. "Don't even try. It will be dead on arrival."

Roem graduated from St. Bonaventure University in New York and spent about a decade working for the Prince William Times and the Gainesville Times, both local newspapers in Virginia. Working as a reporter taught her how to listen and understand people and complicated issues, she has said.

Her opponent, Del. Bob Marshall, was a lightning rod for controversy, sponsoring a bill this year that would have restricted which bathrooms transgender people could use. He also authored a now-void constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and woman, and sponsored a bill banning gay people from openly serving in the Virginia National Guard. On the campaign trail, Marshall and other Republicans repeatedly misidentified Roem's gender.

Roem's win was the most high profile of what the Human Rights Campaign says was at least seven transgender candidates nationwide Tuesday.

"2017 will be remembered as the year of the trans candidate and Danica's heroic run for office the centerpiece of that national movement," Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, a political action committee that works to get openly LGBTQ people elected, said in a statement.

At least two transgender people have been elected to state legislatures in the past, but Roem will be the first openly transgender person to campaign and be seated. One transgender woman was elected to the New Hampshire Legislature but resigned before the term started. And in Massachusetts, a transgender woman served in the Legislature but did not campaign as an openly transgender person. She came out while in office but didn't win re-election.

Gavin Grimm, a transgender Virginia teen who filed a landmark lawsuit over being denied access to the boys bathroom at his school, said he had been following Roem's race closely and rooting for her.

"It is so important for young trans people to look up and see that they can do that and they can be that, and her win is a big win for the trans community," he said in an interview Wednesday.

Hope Vella, another Roem supporter, called the diversity of candidates who got elected Tuesday amazing.

Vella, who is gay, first met Roem while she was canvassing over the summer. An AP reporter spending the day with Roem saw Vella moved to tears.

She said she got that feeling again Tuesday night at a victory party for Roem and several other northern Virginia candidates, including Guzman, Ayala and Jennifer Carroll Foy, who is black.

"I remembered the chant from the women's march: 'Show me what democracy looks like.' And this was it," Vella said.

___

Associated Press writers Matthew Barakat in Fairfax, Virginia, and Ben Finley in Manassas, Virginia, contributed to this report.

  

Print Article

Read More Political

Allegations against Alabama's Roy Moore dividing GOP women

AP

November 17, 2017 at 4:34 pm | MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama's Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women Friday to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of se...

Comments

Read More

The Latest: Alabama's GOP governor to vote Moore for Senate

AP

November 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm | MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) The Latest on sexual assault allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (all times local): 2:25 p.m. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says she plans to vote for Repub...

Comments

Read More

Franken faces ethics probe after woman says he groped her

AP

November 16, 2017 at 8:45 pm | WASHINGTON (AP) Minnesota Sen. Al Franken faces a storm of criticism and a likely ethics investigation after a Los Angeles radio anchor accused him Thursday of forcibly kissing her and groping her ...

Comments

Read More

Moore targets female accusers as critics decry intimidation

AP

November 16, 2017 at 6:48 pm | BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Ever defiant, Republican Roy Moore's campaign on Thursday lashed out at the women accusing him of sexual misconduct, declaring "let the battle begin." Women's advocates decrie...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2017 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X