Lauren Scott is not your typical candidate for state Assembly. In fact, there’s nothing typical about her.
Scott is transgender, though you would never know reading her campaign literature, as she doesn’t flaunt that distinction. For one, she says she’s “over it,” having transitioned in the late 1990s. But she’s also vying for the Assembly seat in Washoe County’s District 30 as a Republican, which all but cues collective brow-furrowing. Isn’t the GOP an unlikely affiliation for a transgender woman and gay rights activist?
As if pigeonholing her were still possible, she’s hardly the stereotype usually associated with trans women and LGBT culture. “I’m a quiet person and I rescue cats,” she says. “I’m a nerd, I read, I don’t go clubhopping.”
That’s because her passions include business development, energy and the environment, technology, and generating employment for Nevadans, which you would know from reading her campaign’s website and press interviews. She speaks matter-of-factly about being a woman and her successes with Equality Nevada, the nonprofit that helped convince Nevada lawmakers to pass domestic partnership, transgender-protective and other civil rights legislation from 2009-2013. But she’s easily fired up about a state government she says is corrupted by corporate interests, and she holds both Democrats and Republicans accountable.
Scott is a moderate but politically dynamic candidate whose contradictions can be complementary. Like many fiscal conservatives, she’s entrepreneurial and wants to create more jobs without government stimulus. But while she’s no fan of Question 3’s margin tax, she doesn’t have the standard knee-jerk response to all taxes. “There are creative ways to get revenue and create taxes that aren’t offensive and burdensome to people,” she says.
Her call for economic diversification largely includes manufacturing and energy—industries she says are currently hindered by Republican corporate cronyism, as well as unions and government regulations commonly associated with Democratic politics. “It all leads back to energy policy,” says Scott, who has extensive professional experience with renewable energy. She’s currently president and CEO of the Sparks-based Alkcon Corporation, which seeks to make systems that convert natural gas and bio-gas to liquid propane. Such technology would create jobs and pump revenue into the economy. It would also be more environmentally friendly—a concern more aligned with modern liberal ideology than the green-dismissive neo-conservatism that shields traditional (and more pollutive) energy sources and companies.
Actually, her embrace of untapped energy resources and concerns for the ecosystem has roots in the conservationist philosophies of President Theodore Roosevelt, clearly a hero of hers. “I would call myself a 1912 Progressive Republican,” she says. “He was a trustbuster. He saw the damage corporations cause when they get involved with government.”
Scott’s politics may entice moderate Republicans and independents; she handily beat a more conservative opponent, Adam Khan, in the June primary. But her challenge lies in wooing center-left/blue collar Democrats away from Assemblyman Michael Sprinkle and procuring votes from the fired-up GOP electorate, for whom anti-regulatory, low-tax policies might not overshadow her civil rights activism.
Scott hopes that pedigree might create some goodwill with LGBT and Democratic voters, as well as prove her bipartisan bona-fides given her lobbying efforts with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. She also has the endorsement of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who appointed her to the Nevada Equal Rights Commission.
If Scott can pull off a victory, she will become the first openly transgender state legislator in U.S. history. It would be a remarkable feat for the 51-year-old business and technology consultant and entrepreneur—and in a state that has trailed many others in LGBT milestones—though Scott would rather be known for her political depth and alternative policies. Still, when pressed, she admits that it would be rewarding to show trans youth that it can indeed get better. “I think that’s where the legacy, if there is one, would have the most personal meaning to me.”