Transgender candidate getting death threats

Published: Aug. 21, 2018 at 1:29 PM EDT
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Christine Hallquist has appeared on several national media outlets since winning the Democratic nomination for governor last week. The exposure has helped increase her name recognition, but has also exposed her historic candidacy to a dark side of politics -- threats made against the country's first major party transgender candidate for governor.

Hallquist is learning just how toxic politics can be. The threats have caused Hallquist to take precautions, including limiting information about public appearances and keeping a low-profile campaign office, but Hallquist says she was prepared for all of this.

"Unfortunately, the underbelly of American politics is pretty ugly," she said, "and some of the vitriol and nastiness goes beyond the bounds of what most of us can even think."

Reporter Neal Goswami: Are you concerned for your safety?

Christine Hallquist: No, I'm not concerned for my safety.

Since winning the Democratic party's nomination she's appeared on plenty of national news programs, and people with bad intentions have noticed.

Reporter Neal Goswami: Did the ugly side intensify in the past week?

Christine Hallquist: Oh, yes. The ugliness, by a step factor, has intensified from comments all over the world.

Campaign staff have seen threats on Facebook and Twitter, and have heard some on the phone. "We are working with the FBI and we also have two IT folks working and watching the feeds as well," Hallquist said.

A spokesperson at the FBI's Albany field office says Department of Justice policy prevents them from discussing or acknowledging investigations or reports. Right now, Hallquist doesn't qualify for a state police security detail.

"As a general rule, the state police provides a security detail only for the governor and governor-elect, and if there were any other circumstances I think we'd have to evaluate it," said VSP spokesman Adam Silverman.

Silverman says they're prepared to handle threats -- they did earlier this year after Hallquist's Republican opponent, Gov. Phil Scott, signed new gun legislation. "It's something I wish were foreign to us, that people could be trailblazing candidates or sign controversial legislation and not receive threats, but unfortunately that's not the world we live in right now," Silverman said.

"We should be better than this. We should be better than this as a country and certainly as a state," said Gov. Phil Scott Tuesday. Scott says he's making sure Hallquist has the resources she needs to remain safe.

"You have to take things seriously. You never know in this day and age and that's why I asked our public safety commissioner to follow through."

Hallquist says the threats appear to be from out of state. She doesn't want a security detail and believes she and her campaign staff are safe here in Vermont.