With the outcome of the presidential race still undecided, the 2020 elections have already made history down the ballot, with candidates for the US House and state legislatures breaking barriers for racial, gender and queer representation.
A record number of women of colour and LGBTQ candidates ran for Congress this year, with these trailblazing candidates following in the footsteps of barrier-breaking lawmakers elected in 2018. In that historic midterm election, the first Muslim women were elected to Congress, Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib; the first Native American women, Representatives Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland; and the youngest congresswoman ever, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. All won reelection on Tuesday.
Here’s who just made history with their wins:
Mondaire Jones will be the nation’s first openly gay Black congressman.
Jones, a 33-year-old Democrat, cruised to victory in New York’s 17th Congressional District, which spans part of the city and its suburbs.
He said in a tweet Tuesday that he was “grateful for the opportunity to serve the community that raised me — the community that just sent an openly gay, Black guy who grew up in Section 8 housing and on food stamps to Congress.”
Ritchie Torres will be the first openly gay Black and Latino congressman.
Torres, a Democrat, handily won his race in New York’s 15th Congressional District, which covers part of the South Bronx. Torres, who identifies as Afro-Latinx, will be the nation’s first openly gay Latinx congressman, along with joining Jones as the first openly gay Black ones.
Torres already broke barriers seven years ago when he became the first openly gay person elected to the New York City Council.
“Tonight, we made history,” Torres, 32, tweeted on Tuesday. “It is the honor of a lifetime to represent the essential borough, the Bronx.”
Cori Bush will be Missouri’s first Black congresswoman.
Bush triumphed in her state’s 1st Congressional District seat, making her the first Black woman to represent the state in Congress.
The 44-year-old progressive, who was a Black Lives Matter activist in Ferguson, Missouri, easily won election after she defeated Representative William Lacy Clay in an upset in the Democratic primary in August.
A record number of Native candidates are headed to Congress.
With six Indigenous candidates winning their US House races, the chamber will now have the most Native lawmakers serving at once. Along with Haaland and Davids ― who made history two years ago as the first Native women elected to Congress ― two others won new terms.
One of the new members is Democrat Kaiali’i “Kai” Kahele, who won his race in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. The 46-year-old will be only the second Native Hawaiian to represent the Aloha State in Congress since it gained statehood in 1959.
New Mexico now boasts a barrier-breaking House delegation that is all women of colour. Along with Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, Republican Yvette Herrell, 56, who is Cherokee, unseated a Democratic incumbent in the 2nd Congressional District and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez, 61,who is Latina, won an open seat in the 3rd Congressional District.
The Land of Enchantment’s population is comprised of a majority of people of colour, ― 49% Latina, 37% non-Latina white, and 11% Native American.
Sarah McBride will be the nation’s first openly transgender state senator.
In winning her seat in Delaware, the 30-year McBride will be the first openly trans person to serve in a state Senate.
“I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too,” McBride said in a Tweet Tuesday night.
Several Muslim Americans make history as the first lawmakers of their faith in their states.
Three Muslim women won seats in their state Houses: Democrat Mauree Turner, a 27-year-old political newcomer who identifies as Black and queer, was elected in Oklahoma; Democrat Madinah Wilson-Anton, 27, did likewise in Delaware, as did Democrat Iman Jodeh in Colorado. All will be the first Muslim lawmakers in their state’s history.
In Wisconsin, Democrat Samba Baldeh became the first Muslim elected to the State Assembly, and in Florida, Democrat Christopher Benjamin, 47, became the first to win a state legislative seat in that state.
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