Friday, 9 Dec 2022

9 historic firsts in the U.S. midterm elections

Two years after Donald Trump was elected president of the U.S., the midterm elections ushered in a wave of historic firsts for marginalized and minority groups.

The midterms saw the Democrats retake the House of Representatives, and the Republicans gain ground in the Senate. Gubernatorial races were also up for grabs.

Voters also elected a diverse group of people, many of whom made history as the first person of their race, gender or sexual orientation in their respective races.

Here’s a roundup of all the historic firsts the U.S. saw Tuesday night:

Texas sends first Hispanic women to Congress

Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia (both Democrats) will head to the House of Representatives to represent Texas.

While Hispanic men have been elected, it’s a first for Hispanic women. Texas’ Hispanic population has been on the rise, and it’s expected the community will be the largest population growth by 2022, according to the Texas Tribune.

Veronica Escobar (left) and Sylvia Garcia (right)

First black congresswomen in Connecticut and Massachusetts

Jahana Hayes, a former teacher, beat her Republican Manny Santos in Connecticut’s 5th congressional district.

Ayanna Pressley ran unopposed in Massachusetts’ 7th district.

Compilation photo: Left – Democrat Ayanna Pressley, Right – Democratic congressional candidate Jahana Hayes

First woman under 30 years old elected to the House

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the former Bernie Sanders organizer, who surprised the country by winning the primary against an incumbent, won New York’s 14th congressional district.

She’s also the youngest women ever to be elected to Congress in the country.

First two Muslim women elected to Congress in the country

Rashida Tlaib ran unopposed in Michigan and Ilhan Oman handily won her district with 78 per cent of the vote. That makes the two the first Muslim women in the House of Representatives.

Individually, they also make historic firsts because of their nationality.

Omar is the first Somali-American person and Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American person in Congress.

First two Native American congresswomen, one of which is openly gay

Sharice Davids is a former MMA fighter, a lawyer and now the first openly gay female member of Congress. She was elected in Kansas.

(She’s not the first MMA fighter elected — Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma was elected in 2013.)

Deb Haaland of New Mexico joins Davids as the first two Native American women elected in the country.

First openly gay governor elected

In Colorado, Jared Polis won the gubernatorial race to become the first openly gay governor elected.

Previous governors have come out after being elected.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis speaks at his midterm election night party in Denver, Colorado U.S. November 6, 2018.

First woman Senator in Tennessee

Marsha Blackburn has become the first woman elected to the Senate for Tennessee. The Republican beat former governor Phil Bredesen in a tight race.

Time Magazine reports that there are 19 other states in which a woman has never been elected to the Senate.

First women ever in House of Representatives in Iowa

Democrats Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer both unseated their Republican rivals in Iowa’s 1st and 3rd congressional districts.

While Iowa has elected female senators and governors, it has never sent women to the House of Representatives before, the Washington Post reports.

Time Magazine reports that Alaska, North Dakota, Mississippi and Vermont still have never elected a woman to the House.

First female governors in South Dakota and Maine

Kristi Noem and Janet Mills are the first women to win gubernatorial races in South Dakota and Maine, respectively.

Before this election, 22 states had never elected a woman as governor, but that number is now down to 20. States including New York and California are among the 20 who have never elected female governors.

Record-breaking number of women running and elected

Women previously held 84 out of 435 House seats, which was a record.

But as of Wednesday morning, the record was on track to be broken as the final results are still rolling in.

“This is the year of the woman, and the fact that women were willing to put themselves on the line is important, whether they’ve been Republicans or Democrats,” said Donna Shalala, who was running in Florida for the first time.

— with files from the Associated Press

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