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Women broke midterms records right and left (but mostly on the left)

A historic 118 women will now serve in Congress.

by Carter Sherman
Nov 7 2018, 8:37pm

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Almost two years ago, millions of women across the world donned pink hats and held up signs that warned of pussies grabbing back. On Tuesday, women made good on their promise and led Democrats to grab back the House: A record-breaking 96 women have already won seats in the House, and 12 have won in the Senate.

That means a historic 118 women will now serve in Congress. And while liberals did lose ground in the Senate, the only Democrat to flip a Republican-held seat was a woman. (So far — results are still rolling in.)

Another nine women will serve as governors, which matches the previous record.

TL;DR: Women are obliterating records left and right. (Well, mostly on the left.)

  • Democrat Ayanna Pressley will be the first black woman to represent Massachusetts with her victory in the state’s 7th Congressional District.

  • Democrats Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan’s 13th, and Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota’s 5th, became the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress.

  • Texas Democrats Veronica Escobar, in the 16th District, and Sylvia Garcia, in the 29th, will be the first Latinas to represent the Lone Star State in Congress.

  • Republican Marsha Blackburn became the first woman to represent Tennessee in the Senate (despite Taylor Swift’s best efforts).

Don’t mess with moms: Tennessee was the last state to ratify the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. According to lore, the last (male) state lawmaker voted in favor of the amendment because his mother told him to.

  • Democrats Sharice Davids, in Kansas’ 3rd, and Deb Haaland, in New Mexico’s 1st, became the first Native American women in Congress. (Davids also became the first openly gay lawmaker in Kansas’ congressional delegation.)

  • Democrat Jahana Hayes’ victory in Connecticut’s 5th District made her the first black woman to represent the state in Congress.

  • Democrat Angie Craig’s win in Minnesota’s 1st District makes her the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected to Congress from the state, and the first lesbian mother to serve in Congress.

  • Twenty-nine-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in New York’s 14th District, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress(though Abby Finkenauer, who won Iowa’s 1st District and is just a few months older than Ocasio-Cortez, wasn’t far behind).

  • Kendra Horn will be the first Democratic woman to represent Oklahoma in Congress. Her election also breaks Oklahoma’s all-men congressional delegation, a possibility I talked to her about in September.

  • Democrat Lou Leon Guerrero became Guam’s first female governor.

  • New Mexico Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will become the nation’s first Democratic Latina governor.

  • Republican Kim Reynolds became the first woman to be elected to serve as Iowa’s governor.

  • Democrat Letitia “Tish” James became New York’s attorney general, and, in doing so, broke a trifecta of records: She’s the state’s first woman to be elected attorney general, the first black person to be elected attorney general in New York, and the first black woman elected to office in the Empire State.

  • Democrat Peggy Flanagan became the first woman of color to be elected to state office in Minnesota.

  • Democrat Janet Mills will become Maine’s first female governor. Maine was formerly the only state to have never elected a woman to statewide executive office.

  • Republican Kristi Noem became the first woman to be elected governor of South Dakota.

  • Democrat Susan Ruiz became the first LGTBQ member of the Kansas state legislature (alongside Brandon Woodard).

  • Democrats Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker became the first transgender women to be elected to the New Hampshire state legislature.

Not every win made history, but several women soared to victory in crucial races.

  • Democrat Gretchen Whitmer won her bid for Michigan governor.

  • Democrat Laura Kelly won the gubernatorial race in Kansas (and, in the process, defeated Trump’s former voter fraud czar Kris Kobach).

  • Nevada Rep. Jacky Rosen is, so far, the only Democrat to flip a conservative Senate seat Tuesday. She defeated Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, the only Republican senator running for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton won. Rosen is also the first non-incumbent Democratic woman to win a Senate seat this year.

  • Democrat Dana Nessel will be Michigan’s next attorney general.

Asking the important questions: Nessel is perhaps most famous nationwide for helping legalize same-sex marriage, but she’s most famous to me for running a campaign ad where she wondered aloud, “When you're choosing Michigan's next attorney general, ask yourself this: Who can you trust most not to show you their penis in a professional setting? Is it the candidate who doesn't have a penis? I’d say so.”

Of course, with 273 women running for Congress or governor’s mansions, some were going to fall short.

  • Red-state Democrats Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp both lost. While Heitkamp’s defeat at the hands of Rep. Kevin Cramer was expected, the moderate McCaskill’s fate seemed more uncertain. Ultimately, she fell to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.
  • Amy McGrath, a liberal darling and first-time candidate who collected more than $7.7 million in donations thanks to a viral ad about her fighter-pilot past, lost her bid for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.

Money talks: This year, women donated more money to the midterms than ever before. Their dollars made up more than one-third of all the political contributions and led female Democratic candidates to outraise men among women donors — which is yet another first.

FYI: No matter who wins in Arizona, the state will get its first female senator.

  • If Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith wins her Nov. 27 runoff against her Democratic opponent Mike Espy, she’ll be the first Mississippi woman elected to serve in Congress. (She was appointedearlier this year.)

FYI: If Hyde-Smith wins, the Senate will have 24 female legislators, which would be — you guessed it — a new record.

  • Stacey Abrams, who’s aiming to become the first black woman to serve as governor in the United States, has refused to concede the race to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. She wants to ensure that every vote is counted in the state, where crucial districts dealt with malfunctioning voting machines and hours-long waits on Election Day.

FYI: Why did so many Democrats win? Well, women voted for them, in even greater margins than in past elections.

For the last several months, VICE News has followed five candidates for two “She’s Running” video series. Their Election Day results were mixed.

  • Democrat Anna Eskamani won her race for the Florida House and will become its first Iranian-American lawmaker.

  • Iowa Democrat Deidre DeJear, who would have been the first African-American elected to statewide office in Iowa, lost her contest for secretary of state.

  • Republican Pearl Kim, who ran in Pennsylvania’s 5th District and hoped to become the first Korean-American woman in Congress, also lost.

FYI: Republican Young Kim, who’s running in California’s 39th District, would also be the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress. Her race has not yet been called, but Kim is leading her opponent.

  • Republican Morgan Zegers, who was gunning to become the youngest-ever member of the New York State Assembly, also lost her race.

  • California Democrat Katie Hill’s victory in the state’s 25th District seems all but assured.

The finale of the “She’s Running” web series — which tracks Eskamani, DeJear, Kim, and Zegers — will drop Friday. The last installment of the VICE News Tonight series, which follows Hill, will air Thursday. In the meantime, watch the rest of the series here and here.

Correction 11/7 4:03 p.m.: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that 22 women won Senate seats Tuesday night. Twelve won. In total, 22 women will now serve in the Senate. The story also incorrectly stated that 118 women won their races for Congress. Instead, 118 women now serve in Congress.

Midterm Elections
historic races