Sarah McBride

Transgender and human rights activist Sarah McBride is running for Harris McDowell's state senate seat in the 1st District, which includes Claymont and Bellefonte.

McDowell, Delaware's longest-serving senator, announced he was retiring on the final day of the legislative session.  

"The news of Senator McDowell's retirement certainly was an opportunity for me to throw my hat in the ring," said McBride.

McBride said she spoke with McDowell to thank him for his service, and she looks forward to what he does in the General Assembly in his last year and beyond.

Even though she would be the first transgender person to be elected in Delaware, she said gender is not the focus of her campaign.

"At the end of the day, I'm not running to be a transgender state senator, I'm running to be a senator who serves her community, I'm running to be a senator who fights for affordable healthcare, I'm running to be a senator who works to expand access to paid leave and reform our broken criminal justice system," said McBride. "Those will be my priorities."

As for healthcare, that's personal for McBride. She's running because of her experience as a caregiver to her late husband, Andy, and she wants to be an advocate for quality affordable healthcare.

"I was Andy's caregiver through an extremely difficult battle with cancer," said McBride.

He died shortly after they got married, but McBride's experience with him showed how affordable healthcare is needed.

"Even for people with good health insurance and good care healthcare is the biggest quality of life issue in most of our lives," said McBride.

She added that she doesn't want anyone to go through that experience, but she knows thousands of people are going through it every day.

McBride has been the National Press Secretary with the Human Rights Campaign. She also worked on the campaigns for Governor Jack Markell and the late Attorney General Beau Biden. She also became the first openly transgender person to address a major party convention in American history when she spoke at the Democratic National Convention in July 2016.  

"We're more than a year from the election, and while it's unclear how this race and others might ultimately take shape, it is undeniably exciting that a candidate of Sarah's caliber - someone with an international platform - is so committed to serving her neighbors at home. The kind of quality candidates we're seeing running in our Party is, I think, a testament to the fact that Dover has really become a proving ground of important progress that continues to move all of Delaware forward," said Delaware Democratic Party Chairman Erik Raser-Schramm.

McBride played a pivotal role in passing legislation in Delaware that bans discrimination, based on gender identity. She authored the book Tomorrow Will Be Different:  Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality.