Danica Roem, candidate for Virginia's House of Delegates in the 13th district.
Danica Roem, candidate for Virginia’s House of Delegates in the 13th district.

Virginia native Danica Roem is running for a seat in her state’s House of Delegates. Should she emerge victorious from the June 13 Democratic primary, the 32-year-old would challenge longtime Republican incumbent Bob Marshall to represent Virginia’s 13th district and become the first openly transgender representative in the chamber.

A win in the general election would also make Roem the third openly transgender state legislator to ever hold office in the U.S., and one of only a few openly trans elected officials in the world.

“There is no reason why a transgender person should feel disqualified from office because of who they are,” Roem told NBC Out. “Transgender people have as much right to bring their public policy ideas to the table as much as anyone else.”

Despite facing three other Democrats in the primary, Roem is optimistic. She has received several endorsements, including one from the Victory Fund, a national LGBTQ political organization.

“We are making 2017 the year of the trans candidate,” Victory Fund President Aisha C. Moodie-Mills said. “We have more transgender people running this cycle than almost all other cycles combined.”

Roem is one of at least 20 transgender candidates currently running for office across the U.S., according to the LGBTQ Representation and Rights Initiative.

So, what are Roem’s chances of victory in the June 13 primary? Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, said there’s “no effective way to predict” the winner in this four-candidate competition.

“Virginia primaries are low-turnout affairs, and the advantage will go to the candidate who is best at getting their supporters to show up on primary day,” he explained. “Roem has been outraised by two of her three opponents, but in a four-candidate primary, money may not turn out to be decisive. She certainly has raised enough money to become a visible and viable candidate.”

In terms of the general election, it is likewise difficult to predict, according to Farnsworth, but he noted that “Marshall has been a canny political survivor over the years. He has been a target of Democrats in election after election, but he has consistently survived the challenges he has faced.”

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