Utah politics create an interesting landscape to discuss progressive ideas. This is the state that fought against Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA’s) in high schools and took it all the way to the United State’s Supreme Court, and lost. This is also one of the states that fought against marriage equality and lost again. For a state with such a record, we have been a brilliant breeding ground for new voices and faces to challenge the status quo. Misty Katherine Snow is one of these candidates and challenging Mike Lee for one of two Utah Senate seats.
Being a progressive candidate from Utah, Snow is also one of two transgender candidates who won primaries for the U.S. Congress this year. The other is running for Colorado’s 5th Congressional District. Two new progressive transgender women are not only challenging conservative “values,” they are also challenging the limitations of what transgender people may do in this country.
Snow describes her desire to see more working-class people in politics, and since she didn’t see others doing it she decided to step up and run. Having transitioned in recent years, she feels more positive in her own life and has chosen to take that hope for the future into the world. This is her first time running for office.
Snow has worked for a local grocery chain as a cashier for 13 years. This has given her the opportunity to interact daily with everyday Utahans. She understands the struggles of families choosing between food and medicine with this front line position in our state. “Misty values love and compassion and believes that these values are Utah values. She wants to stand up for the working class families of Utah, and help them enjoy the economic prosperity that they deserve.”
Goals if Elected
- She wants to raise the minimum wage. Not only in Utah but nationwide; the current minimum wage of $7.25 is insufficient to live on. This further exacerbates income inequality because it disproportionately affects women, people of color and the LGBT community. According to Snow’s research, the Social Security Administration stated that a majority of Americans make less than $30,000 per year. One solution for this issue is to raise the minimum wage to $15 over the next couple years and then link it to inflation to protect its value.
- Clean energy is another priority for Snow. Air quality is another Utah issue that affects more than just Utahans. During winter months, Salt Lake Valley and Provo Valley have some of the worst air in the nation. Snow points out that solar and wind energy are two places where renewable energy sources can be better utilized.
- More than 30 million Americans live without healthcare. This number includes 350,000 people in Utah and 85 thousand of those are children. Snow’s solution to the healthcare issue is to expand Medicare and Medicaid to cover the disparity. Another solution would to be to adopt a single-payer system like most other industrialized nations around the world.
- Paid maternity leave is an issue that would greatly help Utah with its highest birthrate in the nation. The United States is one of two nations worldwide that does not offer this protection for new mothers. Snow feels that if poor nations can find ways to do this then the richest nation should be able to provide for this need. This is an issue that resonates with mothers and Utahans because of how there is a strong desire for mothers to stay home and care for their newborn children.
- As a member of the LGBTQ community, Snow recognizes the need for nondiscrimination laws at the national level to protect employment and housing without broad exemptions to these laws. Further, she sees a necessity for protections in respect to healthcare for LGBTQ individuals.
Opportunity for Discussion
Over the next four months, Snow has the platform to speak about issues that are important not only to her but also to many Utah voters. She sees 2016 as a year of possibly sending a Democrat to the United States Senate.
Snow’s primary win in July didn’t come as a giant surprise because the polls prior to the election had her leading with a 13-point margin and the final totals showed her winning by more than 19 percent. She feels this demonstrates that Utah’s Democratic voters want a candidate who speaks up on progressive issues in contrast to a conservative Democrat like her opponent. In the days following her victory, she had been interviewed in excess of 30 times.
Snow is the first Trans* person to be chosen to run for the United States Senate by either of the two major political parties. Though she now has a place in American history, she remains humble but aware. She says that this is more important now that she has achieved this because she’s inspiring her community. A Trans* woman from Texas reached out to Snow to express a desire to run for the Senate in 2018. She is proud to show that being a member of the LGBTQ community is not a barrier to running for political office or pursuing any other career. There is an excitement to learn about Snow as a person and a candidate.
Snow states that she has received respect from her interviewers. This stands out because in recent years various news organizations have not understood the necessary boundaries when speaking to visible members of this community. She believes it is because she has won the primary from the Democratic Party for Senate. She says that she hasn’t received a single inappropriate question in any of the interviews.
While at the Democratic convention, she appeared on her own with just two volunteers. As she spoke, she gained support because she represents what one volunteer described as “everything I want for this country. This is a good change for Utah … really for the world.”
Cost of Running a Campaign
Snow prevailed over her opponent who had a six-month head start and outspent her by a margin of four to one. By the primary, she had only $7,000 to campaign with, that being from Snow’s own tax returns and in-kind donations. The rest came from small donors totally about $4,000. In the three days following her victory, the campaign has been able to raise even more. If you want to donate where it will go to somewhere important, the campaign suggests to donate here.
How to Win
Snow describes this election cycle as different. One of these differences is that her opponent in November had a low approval rating and prior to the primary, she was polling with numbers nearing 37 percent in June. This is significant because this number is higher than many Utah Democratic candidates have done during their election in November. She has time to get her message out and gain further support.
Fundraising increased following the primary win. Snow attributes much of this to the national news interest in this victory. The money coming in will help her spread the message she needs to attract voters. She further says that Bernie Sanders has been able to run a campaign with small donations and avoiding corporate donations. She hopes that since the Presidential Primary has wound down that some of those donors will continue to support progressive candidates such as herself. If only 50 thousand people can donate $20 each then she would be able to match as much money her opponent dollar for dollar without needing corporate donations.
To the LGBTQ community, she points out she will be a staunch ally as opposed to Lee who is “not a friend of the LGBT community.” Lee is attempting to pass a religious freedom bill that Snow says is meant to enshrine the LGBTQ community as second-class citizens. Furthermore, she sees how many women’s rights issues intersect with Trans* rights. Both need access to appropriate healthcare such as gynecologists. She believes that politicians need to stay out of women’s rights, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ rights. She clearly states, “I don’t want them telling us what we can and cannot do with our bodies.”