On Tuesday, the Delaware Democrats nominated Sarah McBride, a transgender rights activist, for a seat in the state Senate, putting forward her bid to become the nation’s highest-ranking openly transgender elected official.
Ms. McBride, 30, has defeated a symbolic primary challenger and is expected to win the November general election: Wilmington’s seat is Democrat safe and was left by Harris B. McDowell III, who will retire after representing the district for 44 years.
Ms. McBride said in an interview that she wanted her victory to inspire others. “My hope is that this result will help strengthen for a little boy trying to find his place in this world, here in Delaware or anywhere else in this country, that this democracy is big enough for them too,”
“Right now in America, we are seeing rumors that for so long have been pushed to the sidelines and in the shadows have finally been heard,” he added.
Ms. McBride is not a newcomer to national or local politics. In 2012, she became the first openly transgender person to work in the White House when she was an intern during President Barack Obama’s administration. He later lobbied the Delaware state legislature on behalf of a transgender rights law, who was signed into law in 2013, and is now a national press secretary for the human rights campaign, the largest L.G.B.T.Q. civil rights group.
In 2016, she became the first transgender person to speak at a major party’s national convention when she took the stage in front of the Democrats in Philadelphia.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. – a leading figure in Delaware politics, and now a Democratic presidential candidate – wrote the foreword to Ms. McBride’s 2018 book on her struggle for transgender equality.
“Sarah is the epitome of what can make an elected official great,” said Alphonso B. David, president of the human rights campaign. “Tonight, take the first step towards what I expect will be a legendary career in the public realm.”
Battles over transgender rights have taken place in state legislatures across the country, with conservative lawmakers in more than two dozen states introducing anti-transgender measures this year.
No openly transgender person has been elected to any state senate, although four transgender lawmakers currently serve in the lower houses of the state legislatures. Like those politicians, Ms. McBride said she didn’t focus on identity during the campaign. His would-be voters, he said, are much more concerned about his views on health care and education policy.
“My identity and the symbolic ramifications of my elections, which don’t come out” in conversations with voters, he said. “What emerges is that we need creative and courageous leadership that faces this moment with meaningful action for people’s lives.”
The Democrats also renamed Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a ten-year holder, for a second full term. Mr. Coons rejected a progressive challenger, Jessica Scarane, who never attracted the kind of funding or enthusiasm that drove other liberal candidates who hired the centrist Democratic incumbent this year.
Ms. Scarane had hoped to tap into the enthusiasm that launched the progressive challengers to victories against the veterans of the Democratic Congress in Chicago, St. Louis and the Bronx. But the Delaware Senate race in 2020 never became a cause célèbre on the left.
A survey conducted last month by a confederation of progressive organizations that was considering investing in running on behalf of Ms. Scarane found that Mr. Coons was leading by 40 percentage points, which is enough margin to dissuade them from spending money to help Ms. Scarane.
Mr. Coons still took running seriously and used a huge fundraising advantage to cover the Delawarians with TV ads, spending nearly $ 800,000 compared to Ms. Scarane’s $ 65,000. The only third-party organization to devote significant resources to the tender was the American Chemistry Council, which aired more than $ 200,000 in advertising in support of Mr. Coons.
Mr. Coons will then confront Lauren Witzke, whom the Delaware Republicans named on Tuesday. Mrs. Witzke did it posted a QAnon slogan on Twitter, making her the latest winner of a G.O.P. primary of having dabbled in conspiracy theory. She is not expected to be competitive against Mr. Coons in the general election.
Ms. Scarane, who moved to Delaware from New York 10 years ago, didn’t have the profile of other promising leftists who overthrew the incumbent centrist Democrats. Progressive organizations had first tried to recruit a black woman to support the race. Kerri Evelyn Harris, a black progressive organizer, gave a brief scare to Delaware’s other Democratic senator, Tom Carper, in 2018 before Mr. Carper got the better of nearly 30 percentage points.