A Night Of Firsts And Diversity: The Candidates Who Have Made History In The US 2018 Midterms

A Night Of Firsts And Diversity: The Candidates Who Have Made History In The US 2018 Midterms

Groundbreaking campaigns have broken barriers this election, with historic candidates changing the face of Congress and statehouses across the US. Women have run in record numbers, and Native Americans, Muslims, Latinos, immigrants, millennials and LGBT candidates have already made history with their campaigns.

Here are the key trailblazing candidates who are diversifying American politics and have already won their races so far.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, youngest woman elected to Congress

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise victory in the June congressional primary in New York shook up Washington and the Democratic party. The progressive challenger and member of the Democratic socialist party unseated a powerful 10-term New York congressman, running with a campaign ad that said: “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.”

Now age 29, she has become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Elise Stefanik previously held the record when she was elected to Congress at age 30 in 2014.


Chris Pappas, first openly gay member of Congress

Democrat Chris Pappas has become New Hampshire’s first openly gay member of Congress after defeating Republican Eddie Edwards in the 1st Congressional District.

While both candidates said they want to bring integrity and decency to Washington, Pappas argued that only he had the experience to back that up. In addition to running a family restaurant, he is a former state lawmaker who serves on the Executive Council, approving state contracts and nominations.

Pappas says he will keep harmful Trump administration policies in check. He also emphasized working across the aisle. Edwards, a former state liquor commission official, called that disingenuous and said Pappas was part of an anti-Trump resistance movement.


Ayanna Pressley, first black House member from Massachusetts

Pressley was the first black woman to serve on Boston’s city council and made history again after defeating the 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano in the primary. She did not face a challenger in the general election, making her the first black member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts.

In her victory speech in September, she said: “These times demanded more from our leaders and from our party. These times demanded an approach to governing that was bold, uncompromising and unafraid. It’s not just good enough to see the Democrats back in power but it matters who those Democrats are.”


Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, first Muslim congresswomen

Tlaib ran unopposed in her race to represent Michigan’s 17th district and has become the nation’s first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, and one of two Muslim women elected on Tuesday. She is a Democratic-Socialist who served on the state legislature from 2009 to 2014 and ran her congressional primary campaign supporting Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage and abolishing Ice. Tlaib was famously escorted from a Trump rally in 2016 as she shouted questions at the candidate, asking him if he had ever read the constitution.

Ilhan Omar, also the first Somali-American in Congress, is a former refugee who spent the last four years as a state legislator. There, she pushed a progressive agenda, including a $15 minimum wage and subsidizing higher education costs for low-income students.


Jared Polis, first openly gay man elected governor

As the Democratic nominee for governor in Colorado, Polis ran on a leftwing platform, which included single-payer healthcare, repeal of the death penalty, universal full-day preschool and stronger gun laws. Polis, who declared victory late Tuesday night, has long been outspoken in favor of marijuana legalization.

Kate Brown, who is bisexual, became the first openly LGBT person elected governor in 2016 when she won her Oregon race. Jim McGreevey, a Democrat and former New Jersey governor, came out while in office in 2004.


Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, first Native American congresswomen

In New Mexico, Deb Haaland became the first Native American woman to chair a state political party. Now, the former Democratic chair has also become the first Native American congresswoman in the US, alongside Sharice Davids. A citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, Haaland is a longtime activist who ran on a progressive platform, including Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage, and the impeachment of Trump.

Sharice Davids, an attorney and former MMA fighter, became the first Native American congresswoman and the first lesbian congresswoman from Kansas. Raised by a single mother army veteran and a member of the Wisconsin-based Ho-Chunk Nation, Davids was a fellow in the Obama White House.


Janet Mills, first female governor of Maine

Maine has elected its first female governor, the Democrat Janet Mills, who was the state’s attorney general. She declared victory early Wednesday morning and is replacing a controversial and bombastic Republican governor, Paul LePage. She regularly clashed with LePage, who is known for his overtly racist comments and was once caught threatening a state lawmaker in an obscenity-laced voicemail.


Abby Finkenauer, first congresswoman from Iowa

In Iowa, Abby Finkenauer beat the Republican Rod Blum, who has held the seat since 2014. In addition to being the first woman elected to Congress from Iowa, at age 29, she is also one of the youngest people ever elected to the House. She is a two-term Democratic state representative.


Jahana Hayes, first black congresswoman from Connecticut

2016 National Teacher of the Year and first-time political candidate Jahana Hayes won her bid to represent Connecticut’s fifth congressional district. Hayes is the first black woman to represent the state in the Congress, and, alongside Massachusetts’ Pressley, will be one of the first two women of color to represent New England.


Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, first Latina congresswomen from Texas

More than a third of the population of the Lone Star state may be Latino, but until Tuesday, no Latina had been elected to represent the state in congress. Veronica Escobar, a former county judge, won her race in Beto O’Rourke former district in El Paso, while Sylvia Garcia trounced her Republican opponent in Houston.

“It’s about time,” Garcia told supporters, according to the Texas Tribune. “But you know, it’s never been about being a first. It’s always been about being the best.”

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1 Comment

  1. Mandy
    November 07, 13:51 Reply

    This is how you know a nation where things work. Where there’s progressiveness. Where women and Muslims and LGBT and youthful candidates can unseat the normal from office.
    Unlike Nigeria where we keep recycling dinosaurs.

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