- The 2018 US midterm elections, which captured nearly as much attention as a presidential election, was historic on multiple fronts.
- A diverse set of candidates won big in states across the country last November after people voted at record levels for a midterm election, and today they take their oaths of office.
- Beyond the seismic shift in the makeup of Congress, several people made history on an individual level in this year’s midterm elections.
Jahana Hayes, a former high-school teacher, is the first black woman elected to represent Connecticut in the House of Representatives.
Hayes, the 2016 national teacher of the year, won Connecticut’s 5th District with a projected 56% of the vote, beating the Republican Manny Santos, with 44% of the vote.
Hayes will succeed Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who didn’t run for reelection.
Hayes grew up in a housing project, and her mother struggled with drug addiction, The Associated Press reported. Hayes got pregnant at 17 and considered dropping out of school but then enrolled in community college and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree and, later, advanced degrees. She campaigned on strengthening the public-education system.
Jared Polis of Colorado is the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a US state.
Polis, a Democratic representative, is projected to win the Colorado gubernatorial race against the Republican Walker Stapleton.
“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 inclusive as where America is today,” Polis said of his candidacy in a speech earlier this year.
Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar will be Texas’ first Latina women in Congress.
Escobar, an El Paso County judge, won Texas’ 16th District with 68% of the vote.
Garcia, a Democratic state senator, beat the GOP candidate Phillip Aronoff in the 29th District, which covers Houston, with 75% of the vote.
About 40% of Texans are Hispanic or Latino, but voters had never elected a Latina woman to either chamber of Congress until now.
Ayanna Pressley will be Massachusetts’ first black congresswoman.
Pressley, a Democrat, ran unopposed in Massachusetts’ 7th District after beating the 10-term Rep. Michael Capuano by 17 points in the primary on September 4.
After she won, Pressley said women of colour have had to create “seismic shifts” to get into office.
Rashida Tlaib is one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
Tlaib and Ilhan Omar became the first Muslim women elected to Congress, both winning seats in the House.
Tlaib is set to represent Michigan’s 13th District.
The progressive Democrat, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, was also the first Muslim woman in Michigan’s Legislature.
Ilhan Omar joins Tlaib as the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and the first to wear a hijab. She’s also the first Somali-American woman in Congress.
Omar, who came to the US as a refugee in 1995, is set to represent Minnesota’s 5th District after winning 78% of the vote.
Tlaib and Omar campaigned together earlier this year.
Sharice Davids is one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress.
Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, won big in Kansas’ 3rd District on Tuesday night, defeating the four-term Republican incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder.
Davids, who is also a lesbian, will be the first openly LGBTQ person to represent Kansas in Congress.
The other is Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo tribe.
Haaland won the seat left vacant by Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who on Tuesday won the state’s governorship.
Haaland defeated the Republican Janice Arnold-Jones in New Mexico’s 1st District with 59% of the vote.
Tennessee elected its first female US senator, Marsha Blackburn, a Republican.
Taylor Swift couldn’t stop Marsha Blackburn from defeating the Democrat Phil Bredesen comfortably in the race for Tennessee’s Senate seat.
Blackburn is projected to win with 55% of the vote, while Bredesen received 44%.
Swift had said in a high-profile Instagram post that Blackburn’s voting record “terrified” her, and she endorsed Bredesen.
Young Kim is likely to become the first Korean-American woman in Congress.
Kim, a Republican, looks to have won California’s 39th District, with about 52% of the vote as of Wednesday morning.
It’s a close race though, as her Democratic challenger, Gil Cisneros, has about 48% of the vote so far.
Lou Leon Guerrero will become the first woman to govern the US island territory of Guam.
Leon Guerrero, the president of the Bank of Guam, beat the Republican Ray Tenorio with a projected 51% of the vote to become Guam’s first female governor.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, is the youngest woman elected to Congress in US history.
Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, will represent New York’s 14th District.
After her shocking victory over longtime Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary in June, Ocasio-Cortez quickly became a recognisable figure for the party nationwide.
Abby Finkenauer, who will turn 30 on December 27, also became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Finkenauer, a Democrat, beat the Republican Rod Blum with a projected 51% of the vote in Iowa’s 1st District on Tuesday.
Finkenauer and Cindy Axne, who defeated the Republican David Young in Iowa’s 3rd District, are the first women in Iowa’s history to be elected to the US House of Representatives.
Kyrsten Sinema will be the first openly bisexual senator in US history.
Democrat Kyrsten Sinema will be the first openly bisexual senator in US history after a big win in Arizona against her Republican opponent Martha McSally.
She’ll also be the state’s first female senator, and the first Democrat to be elected as a senator in Arizona in roughly 30 years.
“As long as I’ve served Arizona, I’ve worked to help others see our common humanity & find common ground,” Sinema said in a tweet celebrating her victory. “That’s the same approach I’ll take to representing our great state in the Senate, where I’ll be an independent voice for all Arizonans.”