The 2014 race for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District is on. Paula Overby, a 59-year-old from Eagan, says she has nearly enough signatures on a petition to get on next year’s Democratic primary ballot to compete for the congressional seat. Overby believes she will be the first openly transgendered person from Minnesota to run for Congress.
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. She went on to say that she’ll focus her candidacy on reforming what she believes is a broken campaign finance system that empowers corporations and the rich.
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.
Outside the politics of running for Congress, LGBT advocates say candidacies like Overby’s are encouraging in their struggle for acceptance and equal rights.
“There is a general feeling that the American public is changing its mind on the issues of LGBT equality,” said Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund. “We are getting to a point now where it is unacceptable in politics to openly oppose someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”