November 6th made history on multiple fronts. In the 116th Congress, 118 women will serve, an increase from 107, NPR reports. The night proved historic for women, people of color, and LGBT candidates, who will all see more representation in this Congress. Ayanna Pressley became the first black woman to be elected to the House from Massachusetts, and Maine elected its first female governor, Democrat Janet Mills. Here are a few of the other candidates who made history during the midterms.
Davids has become one of the first Native American women elected to Congress and is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. She is also the first out lesbian to serve in Congress from Kansas, and previously was an MMA fighter. Davids will represent Kansas’ 3rd Congressional district as a Democrat, in a race she won against Republican and four-term incumbent Kevin Yoder.
“We have the opportunity to reset expectations about what people think when they think of Kansas,” Davids said.
Joining Davids is Deb Haaland, who has also become one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, this time representing New Mexico’s 1st district. A Democrat, Haaland is a member of Laguna of Pueblo and previously served as the Chair for the Democratic Party in New Mexico. She is a staunch advocate of progressive initiatives like $15 minimum wage and Medicare.
“I think we’ve been working towards this for a long time,” Haaland told Vox. “Just because you’re the first Native woman doesn’t mean you get any breaks… It’s not something that’s given freely.”
Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar
Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar became the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. Tlaib, a Democrat, was elected to serve in Michigan’s 13th district, while Omar, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, was elected in Minnesota’s 5th district. Omar is also the first Somali-American to be elected to Congress, having arrived with her family as refugees over twenty years ago.
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One of the things that people used to ask me on the campaign trail when I first ran was “Did you have permission from your husband and father to run for office?” My dad and my husband would always say, “Oh, these people must not really know you.” It’s been interesting to see the ideas that Western societies have about women in the East. It sounds strange, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had a moment in my life where I didn’t feel like I had power. 📸 and quote from @nymag’s women and power profile
Jared Polis became the first openly gay governor in U.S. history, winning in Colorado. A Democrat, Polis previously served in the House of Representatives and ran a progressive campaign against another Republican candidate. His key issues include Medicare-for-all, stronger gun laws, increased renewable energy, and universal full-day preschool. He will replace Democrat John Hickenlooper as Colorado’s governor.
“I think it really gives Colorado an opportunity to stick a thumb in the eye of Mike Pence, whose view of America is not as exclusive as where America is today,” he said in a speech.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest person ever to be elected to Congress, at the age of 29. Not long ago, she was working as a bartender to support her family, and she will now represent New York’s 14th district (comprised of Queens and the Bronx) in Congress. Ocasio-Cortez gained national attention when she won an upset primary against 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in June.
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Own your power. . For so many, it’s radical to feel comfortable in your own skin – and to know that you are more than enough, just as you are. . One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” . So take up space. Speak up. Hold the door open and take others with you. Accept that you will be criticized no matter what – that is the price of fighting for change and innovation. I consider constructive criticism a blueprint for improvement and a medicine for ego. . Ultimately, the people who get down, stay focused in adversity, and do the thankless work of change are the ones who transform society. We can all be a part of that, if we so choose. We can all knock a door, register our cousin to vote, or educate ourselves on an issue we’re curious about. . We are all capable of awakening and commitment. And because of that, we can all be great. . 📸: @gigilaub
Having formerly worked on the Bernie Sanders campaign, she ran a progressive campaign, emphasizing issues like abolishing ICE, free public college, and gun control. Though elected in a majority-minority district, Ocasio-Cortez will be the 14th’s first representative of color.
Cover image via Press From.
Also published on Medium.