US midterm elections: Historic firsts for women, minority candidates

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Historic firsts for women, minority candidates in US midterm elections The midterm elections, held every four years, is seen as a referendum on the President. (Representational Image)

The US midterm elections have set the stage for historic firsts as several winners will take office as trailblazers, marking firsts for their race and gender. The high-profile midterm cycle produced a record number of women contenders and candidates of colour. With this, the already most diverse Congress could become even more so.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez – Youngest woman elected to US Congress

Twenty-nine-year-old Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has made history in the US midterm elections, becoming the youngest woman elected to Congress. Cortez has never before held office, and in the June primary had defeated 10-term Congressman Joseph Crowley in the House of Representatives. She was also a volunteer in Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Presidential campaign.

Ilhan Omar & Rashida Tlaib – first two Muslim women elected to US Congress

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Democrats Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan will be the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. Omar is a former refugee who fled Somalia’s civil war and Tlaib is a Detroit-born Palestinian-American.

Omar will also be the first Congress member to wear a Muslim hijab, or headscarf. Tlaib, 42, also has a history of breaking barriers: In 2008, she became the first Muslim woman to be elected to the Michigan Legislature.

Arizona to get its first female US senator

In Arizona, regardless of the competitive Senate race, the state will elect either Republican Martha McSally or Democrat Kyrsten Sinema as the state’s first woman to serve in the chamber.

First Native American women elected to Congress

Deb Haaland made history by becoming one of the first Native American woman elected to Congress. A member of the Pueblo of Laguna and the former chair of the New Mexico state Democratic Party, Haaland won New Mexico’s blue-leaning First Congressional District.

Democrat Sharice Davids, a member of Wisconsin’s Ho-Chunk Nation tribe, defeated four-term Republican incumbent US Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas on Tuesday.

First openly gay man to be elected as governor

Over in Colorado, Democratic Representative Jared Polis became the nation’s first openly gay man to be elected as governor. Polis will succeed Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited from seeking the office again, and will defeat Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton

There are some other firsts

Democrat Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts’ first black woman elected to Congress. 44-year-old Pressley won her House race in Massachusetts’ 7th District. The Boston City Councilwoman will represent Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District in the next Congress. Pressley stunned the political establishment in September, defeating a 10-term incumbent in the Democratic primary, and was unopposed on Tuesday, reports AP.

Also in the Senate, Republican Marsha Blackburn will become Tennessee’s first woman senator.

In Georgia’s gubernatorial race, Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, was in a fierce battle to become America’s first black woman governor. Andrew Gillum, a Florida Democrat, was bidding to become the first black governor of Florida.

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