Christine Hallquist Says Death Threats Have Poured In Since Before Her Historic Primary Win
A woman who could become America's first openly transgender governor is reportedly facing death threats. Vermont's Christine Hallquist said she became a target for such personal attacks, according to The Burlington Free Press on Tuesday, when her campaign began receiving national attention.
In a statement to Bustle, Hallquist says that the death threats come as "no surprise" to her. "At the beginning of our campaign I told staff we can expect this as we become more successful," she adds. "I think of Heather Heyer, who was killed as she innocently stood with others against the hatred in Charlottesville and realize that death threats are part of our divisive political culture. While we all work to expand America's moral compass, resistance is a natural outcome."
In the face of these death threats and acerbic rhetoric, Hallquist has received support from her opponents as well — including Republican Gov. Phil Scott. The Burlington Free Press reported that Gov. Scott said in response to Hallquist's comments, "We must — as a society — do better to combat anger and violence. I’m hopeful Vermonters will join me in ensuring everyone — regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or other characteristics — are treated with dignity, respect and acceptance."
Because of these death threats, Hallquist said that she has taken steps to ensure her own safety. She told the newspaper about an unnamed caller, apparently staying in Lamoille County, who asked about any upcoming events for Hallquist. "Normally, I wouldn’t have thought about it, but we decided not to tell them about events because they are not from Vermont," she said. "I’m sure it’s perfectly innocent, but with a little heightened awareness, we’re just taking a little extra precaution."
In comments to The Burlington Free Press, LGBTQ political action committee Victory Fund's spokesman, Elliot Imse, said that it is not out of the ordinary for openly LGBTQ candidates to face hate speech while openly running for political positions.
"While the people of Vermont know Christine as the intelligent executive with a clear vision for their state, her courage in running as an openly trans woman cannot be understated," Imse told The Burlington Free Press. "It takes guts to be a trailblazer because with it comes opening yourself to attacks from the most hateful among us — it is what the leaders of social change nearly always encounter."
Per Hallquist, her campaign has already received "about a dozen" threats via phone calls and social media posts. But she seemed undeterred by the attacks. "Getting into this, this is what fighting for American freedom is all about," she told the newspaper.
The Burlington Free Press did not specify the nature of the death threats and personal attacks against Hallquist. But the Vermont gubernatorial candidate has already reported the death threats to Vermont State Police, as well as the FBI, according to the paper.
Adam Silverman, the Vermont State Police spokesperson, said that the department was working on comprehending the degree and nature of the rhetoric in order to form a response. "We take any threat against a Vermonter seriously and are doing what we can to work with her campaign to make sure the threats are taken seriously and are investigated," he said.