The August 14 primary in Vermont is generating a lot of buzz for two firsts, as the outcome could place a transgender woman or a 14-year-old boy in place to become the next governor of the state.
Christine Hallquist could be the first openly transgender person nominated for governor by a major party.
The precocious Ethan Sonneborn of Bristol may not be able to drive or vote, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be governor.
“My campaign transcends age,” he said.
“I am running to be the change candidate.”
It seems the founders in Vermont left open a loophole when it comes to the age of candidates, and he meets the requirements since he has lived in the state for four years prior to today’s primary.
He’s been there his whole life, after all.
He did have to secure his parent’s permission to run. After he declared his candidacy last year, the secretary of state and attorney general conferred and decided they would require parental signatures on a form.
Then he went out and collected signatures from the community to appear on the ballot.
He enthusiastically achieved the results he needed.
An apparent oversight by Vermont's founders more than 225 years ago was enough to encourage 14-year-old Ethan Sonneborn to collect the signatures needed to place him on the primary ballot https://t.co/3eAyiS1vxv
— Hartford Courant (@hartfordcourant) August 14, 2018
Sonneborn is also very well-spoken.
“I think Vermonters should take me seriously because I have practical progressive ideas, and I happen to be 14, not the other way around,” Sonneborn said in a recent televised gubernatorial forum. “I think that my message and my platform transcend age.”
He was inspired to run after he grew frustrated with state and national politics. His frustration reached a “boiling point” after witnessing the riots in Charlottesville last year.
He has watched as his Republican Governor failed to effect change.
“I think your leadership style is either obstructionist or it’s too easy going,” said Sonneborn of Vermont Governor Phil Scott.
Ethan Sonneborn is vying to be Vermont's governor. The 14-year-old is able to run because the state has no minimum age requirement – but he won't be able to vote. pic.twitter.com/IhYhheQOdl
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 14, 2018
He’s not particularly concerned with the need for large sums of money to run a typical succesful campaign these days.
Sonneborn has raised a fraction of the money that would be expected for candidates going into the November mid-terms, at $1,700.
His chief of staff, Alex Yaggy, is having his birthday today and will turn 15.
Sonneborn gained experience with the legislative process as a Statehouse page.
He’s focused on the economy, education, and healthcare, and is also in favor of an assault weapons ban and increased school safety.
He plans to continue his education with a tutor in the event that he wins.
If the ambitious young man secures the Democratic nomination and makes it to the general election ballot, the state attorney general will have to determine if he’ll have a shot at receiving the keys to the Governor’s mansion.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott may not be too worried, but as we’ve learned with Trump, literally anything can happen.
The best part is that he’s inspiring others to get involved:
“It’s on us to build our own future,” he said. “You’ve got to get involved, you’ve got to vote, you’ve got to knock on doors. It’s how we’re going to make the changes we want to see in the state, in this country, in this world. When we get involved, we make our democracy stronger.”
Sonneborn faces off with Christine Hallquist, a former energy company executive who resigned to start her campaign; James Ehlers, a vocal environmental activist; and Brenda Siegel, a self-described low-income single mom, and director of the Southern Vermont Dance Festival.
Watch him make his closing remarks in the debate below:
— Vermont Democrats (@VTdems) August 2, 2018
Featured imaged: Screenshot via Twitter