Hallquist, 61, was the CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative and she resigned her position on Tuesday (effective March 2nd) as she prepares to run for the governorship as a Democrat. If she wins the Democratic primary in August, she would become the nation’s first openly transgender, major-party candidate for governor.
As things currently stand, Hallquist will be facing off against environmental advocate James Ehlers and 13-year-old Ethan Sonneborn (there is no age requirement for the Vermont governor’s race) in the August primary. Should she win, she would be up against Republican first-term incumbent Gov. Phil Scott for the 2018 race.
“We’re extremely excited about Christine’s potential candidacy,” said Conor Casey, executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party in an interview with NBC5. “It’s a matchup the governor should be nervous about.” Casey says Hallquist’s business success, deep ties to the state of Vermont, and her personal qualities make her a good candidate. “She’s charismatic, intelligent, and she has heart.”
Though Hallquist would face tough odds to unseat Gov. Scott, she is undaunted by the challenge. “I’m a strong leader,” she said. “I can handle headwinds. I wouldn’t be running otherwise.”
Hallquist says she likes Gov. Scott. She voted for him in 2016 and even attended his inauguration. "I want this to be nicest gubernatorial campaign the country's ever seen. I like Phil Scott," Hallquist said in January. The problem is she can’t see herself as a Republican in today's political climate. "I can't be a Republican today. It's like kissing the ring of your oppressor. The (national) GOP platform is anti-LGBT, and anti-other minorities," she said in an interview this past January.
Her key goals will be to improve the states “Spotty” broadband service and raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. She also added that accelerating construction of new, affordable housing will be a top priority. She favors an aggressive strategy to combat climate change, universal healthcare, and an absolute commitment to civil rights.
Though Hallquist would be the first transgender governor in the United States, she hopes that voters won’t focus too much on it. “I consider myself a very strong leader with a good history who happens to be transgender," she said last month. "I mean I'd ask the voters who may be struggling with the fact I am transgender to try to look beyond that. Try to look at what I've done."
The Vermont Democratic Primary takes place on August 14, 2018.