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These Progressive Women Broke Barriers In The 2018 Midterm Elections

by Zoë Naseef

So, not everything went as we would’ve hoped last night, but we saw a lot of firsts for women, especially for women of color! According to the New York Times, over a quarter of the candidates who ran in the midterm elections were women, which included 84 women of color. That is a 42 percent increase from the past election cycle, but still not enough. Women are continuing to break down barriers and beat out white male incumbants. This is the most women EVER elected to serve in Congress at the same time. According to NPR, at least 118 women will serve in the 116th Congress, an increase from the current 107. That is still only 22% of Congress though, so we have a lot of fighting ahead.

Here’s a list of firsts for progressive women in politics:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: AOC made waves after the primary election when she beat out Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley. At 29 years old, she is the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress. Alexandria is a Democratic socialist from the Bronx and we can’t wait to have her in Congress!

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar: The first Muslim-American women ever elected to Congress! Furthermore, Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to the House. Tlaib ran unopposed for Michigan’s 13th District, taking the seat of John Conyers, who resigned last year following sexual assault allegations. (Yay for one less creepy man in government!) Omar is a former Somali refugee who gained attention in 2016 when she became the first Somali-American legislator. She is now going to become the first Somali-American congresswoman!

Ayanna Pressley: The first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress! Pressley ran unopposed last night after beating our ten-term incumbent Mike Capuano, which BUST wrote about here. In 2009, Pressley was the first woman of color elected to city council and now she is making history again!

Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia: The first Latinas to represent Texas in Congress! Escobar ran in the 16th district, which is a consistently blue part of Texas. Garcia defeated Republican Phillip Aronoff in Texas 29.

Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland: First Native American women ever elected to Congress! Davids, who will also be the first openly lesbian Congresswoman, beat Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder in Kansas. Haaland beat Republican Janice Arnold-Jones in New Mexico.

Lauren Underwood: Underwood is the youngest black woman who ran for Congress, and she won! She will be the first woman and 5th Democrat to win the seat in her district’s 145-year history. She says, “I’m running for Congress because this moment in history requires courageous people to stand up and fight to restore our voice in Washington.” You can read more about her from BUST here.

Lou Leon Guerrero: The first woman governor of Guam! She beat out Republican incumbent Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio, winning 50.7% of the vote.

Janet Mills: The first female governor in Maine! Maine has spent the past 8 years under Republican Governor Paul LePage, who received national press for racist comments and abuse of power. Maine has officially replaced him with their first woman governor!

Abby Finkenauer: Iowa’s first Congresswoman! Finkenauer is the first woman who will represent Iowa in the House. The 29-year-old is only slightly older than AOC but, since she turns 30 before taking office, is only the second youngest woman to go to Congress and amongst the youngest people ever elected.

Jahana Hayes: The first black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress. She won over Republican Many Santos. Santos runs a campaign of social conservative while Hayes ran on a progressive platform that was endorsed by Working Families Party.

Michelle Lujan Grisham: New Mexico’s first Democratic Latina governor! Grisham has been one of Trump’s strongest critics to immigration policy from her current position in Congress. This is also the first time since 2002 that New Mexico will have a Democrat for governor!

Letitia James: Broke three barriers! She is going to be New York’s first woman to be elected attorney general, the first black person to be elected attorney general, and the first black woman elected to any statewide office position.

Angie Craig: Broke three barriers! Her election to Minnesota’s 1st District makes her the first openly LTBTQ representative as well the first lesbian mother to serve in Congress.

Peggy Flanagan: Minnesota kept going with the wins as Flanagan became the first woman of color to be elected statewide in Minnesota. Flanagan is also the second Native American ever elected to executive office.

Teri Johnson: Will be Florida’s first openly lesbian major, serving in Key West! 

As always, the voting results show that people of color, particularly women of color, carried the votes in many major race while the majority of white women still vote republican, see here. Thank you to the women of color who fought tirelessly leading up to this election and will continue to fight tirelessly. We see you, we support you, we congratulate you!

Top Images: AyannaPressley.com, RashidaForCongress.com, Jena Cumbo for BUST

Published November 7, 2018

More from BUST

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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