Election 2020

Vt. Dem. Primary Features a Bernie Sanders Staffer, a Greenie, a Transgender, And a 14-Year-Old Boy

Facebook photo of Ethan Sonneborn from the 14-year-old Democrat candidate's Facebook page.

On Tuesday, voters in Vermont will nominate candidates for the governor’s race in November. Democrats have quite a cast of characters to choose from: a Bernie Sanders staffer, an environmental activist, a transgender person, and a 14-year-old boy.

The first two may not be quite that far outside the norm. Brenda Siegel, an activist who champions relief for victims of the opioid epidemic and the Brattleboro hurricane, worked for Bernie Sanders before he was cool. Siegel interned for Sanders when he was in the U.S. House of Representatives (1991-2007).

A classic big government Democrat, Siegel supports a $15-per-hour minimum wage, universal health care, an emphasis on green energy, and “a deep look at our transportation system.”

James Ehlers may upstage Siegel on environmental issues, however. Executive Director of the local green (or should I say “blue?”) group Lake Champlain International, Ehlers also supports the far-left activism that categorizes the Democratic Party in the increasingly radical Green Mountain State. His website declares that “healthcare is a human right,” backs paid family leave, advocates for more funding to Planned Parenthood, champions a $15-per-hour minimum wage, demands water quality, supports unions, and pushes more government in general.

Ehlers enjoys the backing of the AFL-CIO and the Vermont Building and Construction Trades Council.

Green energy may not be sexy enough in this race, however. (Or should I say, “gender-y?”) Christine Hallquist, a biological man who identifies as a woman, has launched a powerful bid to become the first transgender governor in American history.

The former CEO at the Vermont Electric Cooperative, Hallquist became the first CEO to “transition” while in the job. “My path to being my authentic self was certainly not easy,” Hallquist said at a campaign kickoff. “However, it’s always been important to me to live openly and honestly. I chose to transition in a very public way because I felt I owed it to those at Vermont Electric Cooperative who put their trust in me.”

This language of authenticity is quite interesting, considering that transgender identity involves rejecting biological sex, and often drives people to alter their normal and healthy sexual organs to force them to conform to their “identity.” People really do struggle with gender dysphoria (the condition of identifying with the gender opposite one’s birth sex), but encouraging transgenderism does them harm. Pushing hormones and surgery is arguably like telling an anorexic person that they really are fat, and then pushing as “health care” a plan to feed them as little as possible.

Hallquist told CNN in June, “I was sure I was going to lose my job. I was sure I was going to lose respect. But that didn’t happen. So this describes the beauty of Vermont. Now I’m at this point where I can’t do enough to give back to Vermont.

Despite recent complaints from lesbians that transgenderism “erases women,” organizations like the LGBTQ Victory Institute lump LGBTQ candidates together, pointing out that there are more than 400 running in the 2018 cycle. This lumping together of issues helps to mainstream transgenderism, despite its opposition to genetics and despite the long-term damage it does to people to take hormones or undergo surgery.

Among the Democrats, Hallquist had the best name recognition at 41 percent, 12 percentage points ahead of Siegel. The transgender candidate also has the most endorsements.

Even Hallquist may not be radical enough for Vermont Democrats, however. As the Associated Press (AP) reported, one of the four Democrats running for governor is a 14-year-old boy.

“I think Vermonters should take me seriously because I have practical progressive ideas, and I happen to be 14, not the other way around,” Ethan Sonneborn said in a recent televised gubernatorial forum. “I think that my message and my platform transcend age.”

Sonneborn is not old enough to drink, vote, or drive, but the Vermont Constitution does not have an age requirement for people seeking the state’s highest executive office beyond having lived in the state for four years before the election. Last January, two Vermont lawmakers introduced a bill that would require candidates to be registered voters, but the proposal went nowhere.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott mocked the idea of a 14-year-old boy running for governor. “I think you should at least be able to get your driver’s license at the time that you become governor,” Scott said.

The teen told the AP that his decision to run grew out of his frustration with state and national politics, especially as a reaction to the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va. last year.

Sonneborn’s July finance report showed just over $1,700 in his campaign coffers, making him essentially a non-candidate. Even so, the 14-year-old boy has shared the stage with Vermont’s other Democratic candidates.

Gov. Scott is facing a challenge of his own. A centrist Republican, Scott was one of the most popular governors in the country. In April, however, he abandoned his Republican base by signing three gun control laws, which did not go over well in the historically gun-friendly Green Mountain state.

A July Morning Consult poll found Scott’s approval fell by 18 points between the first and second quarters of this year. His disapproval doubled to 42 percent, giving the governor a net 38 point drop. Most of the negative movement came from Republicans (67 percent down to 41 percent) and Independents (61 percent down to 42 percent).

Shopkeeper Keith Stern has mounted a conservative challenge against the governor, and the Republican Governor’s Association has invested more than $1 million into a PAC supporting Scott’s re-election.

Even so, should Scott prevail in the primary Tuesday, he will likely soar through re-election in November. Stern may not perform quite as well in deep blue Vermont.

Despite the problems with transgenderism, it seems the transgender Democrat is best suited to win the primary Tuesday, and Hallquist may well defeat Stern if he unseats the current governor. This crazy story of four weird Democrats pushing against one anti-gun Republican may just get weirder yet.