These women made history on election night

Ayanna Pressley gives her victory speech during an election night watch party in Boston on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

A record-setting number of women won seats in Congress on Tuesday night in the midterm elections. Many of the winning candidates made history, marking firsts for their race and gender.

At least 113 women won seats in the House of Representatives, many of them Democrats who helped their party win back a majority in the House. Eleven women were elected to the Senate. Nine women won governorships, tying a previous record.

“Regardless about how you feel about last night’s election, it’s a great thing that there are more women in the House,” Robbie Myers, who was the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine for 17 years, said at Northeastern on Wednesday. She spoke at an all-day summit at which an esteemed group of women gave advice, shared their success stories, and addressed their approach to leadership. “I’m happy that now is a moment where college students get to see the power dynamics changing,” she said. 

Here are seven trailblazers who won their races and made history.

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez: Youngest woman ever elected to Congress

On Tuesday, 29-year-old Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress. An organizer on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, she gained notoriety when she defeated long-term incumbent, Joe Crowley, in New York’s primary election in September. Ocasio-Cortez will represent the state’s 14th congressional district, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens.

Ayanna Pressley: First black congresswoman in Massachusetts

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, a Democrat who ran unopposed, became the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress. Like Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley unseated a long-term incumbent, Michael Capuano, in the state’s primary two months ago.

Sharice Davids, Debra Haaland: First Native American women in Congress

Debra Haaland and Sharice Davids are the first Native American women to be elected to the United States Congress. Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, will represent the first congressional district in New Mexico.

Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, is the first openly gay Native American congresswoman to represent Kansas. An MMA fighter, Davids defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in a race to represent the third district in the Sunflower State.

Stacey Abrams: Could become the first black woman governor in the country

Stacey Abrams refuses to concede the governor’s race in Georgia to her opponent Brian Kemp. Kemp is ahead of Abrams by more than 60,000 votes with 99 percent of the precincts in Georgia reporting, according to a report by CNN, but he’s garnered only 50.4 percent of the vote. If neither candidate wins more than 50 percent  of the vote, there will be a runoff in December.

Abrams garnered financial support and celebrity endorsements from people such as Oprah Winfrey and former President Barack Obama. If elected, she will be the country’s first black woman governor.

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar: First Muslim women in Congress

A pair of districts in the Midwest voted to elect Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar as the first Muslim women to the House of Representatives. Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, won Michigan’s 13th congressional district in a race in which she was the sole major party candidate.

Ilhan Omar is already the nation’s first Somali-American legislator. Now, the  Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s nominee is also Minnesota’s first woman of color to be elected to Congress. Omar, who will represent Minnesota’s fifth congressional district, came to the United States as a refugee more than two decades ago.

Angie Craig: First lesbian mother in Congress

Another candidate from Minnesota also made history on Tuesday night. Angie Craig defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Jason Lewis to become the state’s first lesbian mother in Congress. After CNN released audio recording of Lewis in which he questioned the parenting ability of same-sex couples, Craig’s eldest son, Josh, posted a video on Twitter to defend his mother and support her candidacy.

Jahana Hayes: First woman of color elected to Congress in Connecticut

Jahana Hayes was named the 2016 National Teacher of the Year. Two years later, she became the first woman of color elected to Congress in Connecticut, and will represent the state’s fifth congressional district, which includes Newtown, New Britain, and Woodbury. Hayes’ platform focused on education, immigration, and criminal justice reform.

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