MANASSAS, Va. (AP) - A former journalist is trying to unseat one of Virginia's most socially conservative lawmakers and make history as the first state legislator in the nation to win and serve as an openly transgender candidate.

With such stark differences between the candidates, the race is expected to draw in big money and is seen by some as a referendum on rights for gay and transgender people.

Democrat Danica Roem, an experienced local newspaper reporter, talks openly about her gender identity but has made jobs, traffic and teacher pay the focus of her campaign.

Republican Bob Marshall has served in the House since 1992 has been a lightning rod for controversy. This year, he sponsored a bill that would have generally prohibited individuals from using bathrooms in government-owned buildings that don't match their gender at birth.