Voters elected the country’s first Muslim congresswomen, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota (left) and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, both Democrats.
Featured image: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
America’s 116th Congress is going to include some prominent firsts — and several governors’ races also made history in these midterms.
The U.S. has ushered in its first Native American and Muslim congresswomen, its first lesbian mom in Congress and the first openly gay man elected as a governor. South Dakota and Maine elected their first female governors, Tennessee and Arizona sent their first women to the Senate, and Massachusetts and Connecticut elected their first black women to the House.
As NPR has previously reported, record numbers of Native Americans, Muslim Americans and women, including many women of color, ran for office in 2018. A “rainbow wave” of LGBTQ candidates also sought office. And after the ballots were cast, all those groups notched notable firsts.
No, voters did not elect the first Native American governor (Paulette Jordan lost in Idaho) or the first openly transgender governor (Christine Hallquist lost in Vermont). And in Georgia, Stacey Abrams’ bid to be the country’s first black female governor is still up in the air — Secretary of State Brian Kemp has a slim lead, but Abrams has not conceded and is pushing for a runoff.
But here are some of the winning candidates who made history on Tuesday:
First openly gay man elected governor, Colorado Democrat Jared Polis defeated Walker Stapleton.
“We proved that we’re an inclusive state that values every contribution regardless of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” Polis said during his victory speech, according to Denver’s CBS4 TV station. “For the LGBTQ pioneers … who endured so much hardship and hurt to make it possible for so many of us, myself included, to live and to love openly and proudly, and to the people in this room, I want to say I am profoundly grateful for all the work we’ve done to overcome.”
New Jersey’s former Gov. Jim McGreevey came out as gay as he resigned.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who is bisexual, became the first openly LGBT governor elected when she won her office in 2016.
Polis’ partner, Marlon Reis, and two children, Caspian and Cora, will be moving into the governor’s mansion.”
Polis made millions in e-commerce and backs single-payer health care, set a goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, supports greater distances between oil and gas drilling operations and homes and schools, and wants the state to fund preschool and full-day kindergarten,” writes Bente Birkeland of Colorado Public Radio.
Polis is also Colorado’s first Jewish governor.
Sharice Davids of Kansas (left) and Debra Haaland of New Mexico are the first Native American women elected to Congress.
Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, won a competitive race to represent Kansas’ 3rd District. Davids is a lawyer and a former MMA fighter (one of her ads featured her attacking a punching bag).”We have the opportunity to reset expectations about what people think when they think of Kansas,” Davids said in her victory speech, according to The Kansas City Star.
She is also the first openly gay congresswoman from Kansas. “She really feels like the voice for all the LGBT folks in the Midwest,” one LGBT activist told the Star.