Danni Askini has suspended her campaign for the open state House seat in the 43rd District. In a statement released Friday, the Seattle transgender activist said she will step away from the race to focus on fighting I-1515 — a ballot measure that seeks to restrict bathroom access for transgender people in the state.
“The transgender community is under attack,” said Askini, who is executive director of the Gender Justice League.
Askini joined the race for the Washington State Legislature in March to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, who is running for Congress this year. According to Askini’s campaign, she would have been the first transgender person elected to public office in the state.
Askini’s departure from the race is surprising given her progressive credentials, comparatively strong name recognition, and third place stance in fundraising. Lawyer Daniel Shih currently leads the pack in money raised.
Most of the 43rd candidates are scheduled to be on hand Sunday night at a debate organized by the King County Young Democrats at 12th Ave’s Northwest Film Forum.
Here is Askini’s full statement:
Today I am suspending my campaign for State Representative, District 43.
The transgender community is under attack. Initiative 1515 has been filed and right now Washingtonians face a choice about our state’s values. We will decide whether we value diversity and acceptance or discrimination and fear.
Given these attacks, I feel it is critical to focus my full attention on my role as Executive Director of the Gender Justice League, Washington’s only transgender civil rights organization.
I have been overwhelmed by the support our campaign has received. This decision has weighed heavily on me, but after talking with friends and supporters, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot run the campaign for State Representative that this district and my community deserve while also fighting attacks both nationally and across our state on transgender rights.
Thank you for your support – and for being a friend.
I’ll be donating the surplus funds from our campaign to organizations on the frontlines of the fight for equality in our state. I have deep faith in their ability to address the structural inequities and challenges faced by our communities and to continue the fight and spirit of our campaign moving forward.
I can never thank you enough for your help and support. I hope you’ll join me in helping defeat I-1515 and tell the world that Washington won’t discriminate.
This post has been updated since its original publication.