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21 historic firsts from the 2018 midterms

Women, LGBTQ people, Latinos, Muslims, African-Americans, and Native Americans all achieved major milestones Tuesday night.

by Carter Sherman
Nov 7 2018, 3:39pm

Results from the 2018 midterm elections are still rolling in across the country, but the winning candidates are already smashing records. Voters championed governors, senators, representatives, and state legislators who will become the first people of their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or age to serve in their elected positions. (In some cases, the candidates were “first” in more ways than one.)

The record-breaking started early Tuesday evening, when the day’s first election results arrived from Guam, where Lou Leon Guerrero became the U.S. territory’s first female governor. And it only continued from there:

  • Democrat Ayanna Pressley became 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.
  • Democrat Joe Neguse is the first black person to represent Colorado in Congress.
  • 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.)
  • New Hampshire Democrat Chris Pappas is the first openly gay congressperson to represent the state in Congress.
  • Jahana Hayes’ victory in Connecticut’s 5th District makes her the first black woman to represent the state in Congress.
  • New Mexico Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will become the nation’s first Democratic Latina governor.
  • Letitia “Tish” James became New York’s attorney general, and, in doing so, broke a trifecta of records: She is the state’s first woman to be elected attorney general, the first black person to be elected attorney general, and the first black woman elected to statewide office.
  • 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.
  • After winning in the Wisconsin state legislature, 19-year-old Democrat Kalan Haywood is likely the youngest state lawmaker in the country.
  • Democrat Keith Ellison — whose departure from the House of Representatives opened the door for Omar’s win — won his race for Minnesota attorney general, becoming the first Muslim to be elected to statewide office in Minnesota.
  • Democrat Jared Polis, who will become Colorado’s governor, is the first openly gay man to be elected governor in the country.
  • Janet Mills, a Democrat, will become Maine’s first female governor. Maine is the only state to have never elected a woman to statewide executive office.
  • Republican Kristi Noem is the first woman to be elected governor of South Dakota.
  • Peggy Flanagan, a Democrat, became the first woman of color to be elected statewide in Minnesota. She is also the second Native American woman elected to statewide executive office in the United States.
  • Republican Kim Reynolds is the first woman to be elected to serve as Iowa’s governor.
  • Twenty-nine-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in New York’s 14th District, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress (though 29-year-old Abby Finkenauer, in Iowa’s 1st District, wasn’t far behind).
  • Democrat Cindy Axne’s win in Iowa’s 3rd District makes her, along with Finkenauer, the first Iowa woman to serve in the U.S. House.
  • Teri Johnson won her race for mayor of Key West, Florida, making her the state’s first openly lesbian mayor.

Cover: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic candidate for the 14th Congressional district of New York, left, stands with, Ayanna Pressley, the Democratic candidate of the Massachusetts 7th congressional district, during a rally against Judge Brett Kavanaugh at City Hall, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)