In a campaign kick off and fundraiser on October 29 Davin Sokup, a carpenter from Northfield, announced his plan to flip the District 20 Senate seat. Sokup intends to run against Sen. Rich Draheim for control of the Senate District that includes parts of Blue Earth, Le Sueur, Rice, and Scott counties. Incumbent Draheim, of Madison Lake is a first-term Republican.
Sokup, 32, is the owner of Sokup Woodworking Company and is openly transgender. Winning the seat would make him the first openly transgender member of the Legislature.
Expressing the need for “bigger change” he plans to focus on affordable housing, health care, and the environment.
Sokup told the Star Tribune, “It’s just getting harder and harder to afford really essential things like health care and housing in our area,” he said. “While wages have really remained pretty much the same, the cost of everything has increased dramatically and that has been pushing people out of rural communities.”
Sokup, a carpenter not a career politician, believes his life experience has made him more open and “better at advocation for myself and others around me.” He also plans to talk openly about being transgender while on the campaign trail. Sokup said it’s important for people struggling with their own gender identity to see people like him model “success in being trans and being out.”
“I think the experience of being trans has honestly made me a better candidate,” Sokup, a possibility model for other trans persons said.
In 2018 a record number of LGBTQ candidates ran – and won their seats. But the LGBTQ community is still grossly underrepresented in all levels of politics across the nation.
The nation saw its first openly transgender state legislator, Virginia Delegate Danica Roem, elected just two years ago, in 2017.
The 2020 fight for control of the seat in the 20th Senate District could make it a key battleground. Draheim flipped the seat from Democrat – Farm – Labor (DFL) control in 2016 with 52% of the vote. Sokup expects a contested race for the DFL endorsement and primary. Another Democrat, Navy veteran Jon Olson, has also filed to run for the seat.
Follow Davin Sokup’s run for the senate at Sokup for Senate.
This article was first published at Trans Speak, the voice of trans culture and advocacy.