WASHINGTON — The Pioneer Press’s Christopher Magan checks in with Paula Overby, a transgender woman who’s angling to secure the signatures to join a 2nd District Democratic primary next year:
Overby, born a man who now identifies as a woman, believes she will be the first openly transgendered person from Minnesota to run for Congress.
She will face fellow Eagan residents Thomas Craft, another political newcomer who announced his candidacy in July, and Mike Obermueller, who lost a 2012 bid to unseat U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Lakeville. Kline has held the seat for more than a decade.
Overby acknowledged that her gender identity may be a polarizing issue for some voters, but she doesn’t want it to define her candidacy. She also believes it may help her reach residents who typically don’t vote.
“There is a significant level of prejudice that exists against transgendered people,” Overby said. “Some people will see this as a mark of enormous courage. There are other people who won’t vote for me because of it.”
Overby says she’ll focus her candidacy on reforming what she believes is a broken campaign finance system that empowers corporations and the rich.
“The deadlock you see in Congress today isn’t government — it’s rule by the rich,” she said.
Overby, a divorced parent of three, has never been a candidate or held appointed office.
“In some respects, I think that makes me uniquely qualified,” she said of her lack of political experience.
LGBT advocacy groups told the PiPress they don’t know of any other past transgender congressional candidates in Minnesota, making Overby’s candidacy a bit unique, especially if she manages to make it on a primary ballot.
In any case, Overby is the fourth Democrat to consider a 2nd District run this year (beyond Obermueller and Craft, CaringBridge founder Sona Mehring briefly mulled a run this spring), which makes the DFL’s race there the second most active in Minnesota, after the four-candidate (and counting) GOP contest in the 6th District.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.