National News

Night of Firsts: Rashida Tlaib, Sharice Davids and More Make History in Midterm Elections

Posted November 7, 2018 10:58 p.m. EST

There were historic firsts across the country Tuesday night, as voters chose from a set of candidates that was among the most diverse ever to run in the United States. Native American, Muslim and African-American women, and LGBT candidates, were among those who broke barriers.

Here are some of the winners who made history.

In the House of Representatives

In next year’s session of Congress, there will be at least 100 women in the House for the first time in history.

Sharice Davids, a former White House fellow from Kansas, and Debra Haaland, a community activist from New Mexico.

Davids is also the first lesbian Native American to be elected to the House and part of “a rainbow wave” of LGBT candidates in this year’s election. She has criticized the Republican tax bill and called for “a true tax cut for the middle class.”

In her contest, Haaland drew parallels between the separation of Native American children and the federal government’s recent border actions with the families of migrants.

Ilhan Omar, a Democratic state legislator in Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic former state legislator in Michigan, became the first Muslim women elected to Congress after winning their House races.

Omar will also be the first Somali-American to serve in Congress. She has called for gun control, single-payer health care and a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

Tlaib, a Palestinian-American attorney, has championed Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage and abolishing the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Ayanna Pressley will become the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress. She beat a 10-term incumbent in the Democratic primary and vowed to pursue “activist leadership” to advance a progressive agenda.

Jahana Hayes, a school district administrator in Waterbury, Connecticut, will become the first African-American woman to represent Connecticut in Congress. Hayes, a Democrat, was a celebrated former history teacher who was chosen as the National Teacher of the Year in 2016. She will fill the seat previously held by Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat who said she had failed to protect women in her office from sexual harassment and did not seek re-election.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest woman elected to Congress. Like Pressley, she defeated a white male incumbent who had served 10 terms in a Democratic primary. She will represent New York’s 14th District, which includes parts of Queens and the Bronx. She has never held elected office but attracted support with an uncompromising left-wing platform. She won about 78 percent of the vote against her little-known Republican opponent.

Two Democratic women in Texas, Veronica Escobar of El Paso and Sylvia Garcia of Houston, will be the state’s first Latinas to serve in the House of Representatives. Their victories, both in seats previously held by Democrats, reflect the shifting demographics in Texas, particularly in urban areas. Escobar, a top elected official in El Paso County, will replace Rep. Beto O’Rourke, whose spirited challenge for Senate against Ted Cruz fell short Tuesday night. Garcia was a member of the Texas Senate.

In the Senate

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican closely allied with President Donald Trump, will be Tennessee’s first female senator. She is fiercely anti-abortion, and stressed border security and taxes. Trump visited Tennessee to campaign for Blackburn three times, most recently at a rally in Chattanooga on Sunday.

In governors’ races

Jared Polis, a wealthy Democratic congressman in Colorado, became the first openly gay man elected as governor in any state. He wants to push for single-payer health care and renewable energy.

Kristi Noem, a four-term Republican congresswoman who touted her experience working on her family’s farm and her conservative record in office, will be the first female governor of South Dakota. Vice President Mike Pence campaigned for her at a rally in Rapid City on Monday night.

Janet Mills, the Democratic state attorney general of Maine, will be its first female governor. (She was also the first woman elected as the state’s attorney general.) The former prosecutor was elected to the state Legislature in 2002, and has vowed to combat the opioid epidemic and ensure access to health care.

Lourdes Leon Guerrero, a successful bank executive in Guam and a Democrat, became the first female governor of the small United States territory in the Pacific. She was part of a wave of female candidates who won there Tuesday, including 10 women elected to the 15-member Guam Legislature.