By Jenny Hollander
Don’t call it a comeback – but do call it a night full of women-driven victories. The results of the 2018 midterm elections on Tuesday saw a number of dynamic women take Congress by storm, and if we didn’t see the fabled ‘blue wave’, we did see strong and steady progress. From Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan to Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts, dozens of card-carrying members of the ‘resistance’ against President Trump were elected to the only body capable of suppressing him: Congress.
It’s a victory two years in the making – and even if it isn’t the blue-sweep victory some Democrats had hoped for (Beto!), make no mistake that this is in fact a victory. If projections hold and Democrats take control of the House, Republicans no longer have the upper hand over the entire federal government. It’s a far cry from Democrats taking control of both chambers, yes, but it’s also light years away from the position Democrats had been in prior to Election Day.
Then there are the women who sought victory in the wake of Trump’s election and finally earned it on Tuesday night – the 70-plus women who have already inched the country forward, making it a more diverse, more feminist, more heroic place to live. Like…
One of the brightest Democratic stars of this election cycle, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez handily defeated Republican opponent Anthony Pappas in New York with more than 75 per cent of the vote. This makes her, a Latina, the youngest woman to serve in Congress. Ever.
Ayanna Pressley took more than half the vote in Massachusetts’ 7th congressional district following her ‘Change Can’t Wait’ campaign, making her the first black woman to ever represent Massachusetts in Congress.
Gretchen Whitmer is now the governor-elect of Michigan. She defeated Republican opponent Bill Schuette, a Trump-endorsed, fiercely anti-abortion candidate who posed cheerfully with firefighters in front of a burning fire last week. This is great news, is what I’m getting at.
North Dakota incumbent Heidi Heitkamp didn’t keep her seat, but I’m going to call this a moral victory. Hear me out: she famously voted ‘no’ against Brett Kavanaugh, which contributed to her loss. ‘That @SenatorHeitkamp knew voting no on Kavanaugh would seal her political fate and did it anyway makes her a hero in my book,’ wrote author Jessica Knoll on Twitter.
Sharice Davids breaks new ground in Congress twice over, becoming both Kansas’ first gay representative in Congress and one of the first two Native American women to ever serve in Congress. For the latter, she joins Deb Haaland, who won a House seat in New Mexico Tuesday.
Rashida Tlaib is often mentioned in the same breath as fellow winner Ilhan Omar, both being Muslim women who were successfully elected to Congress on Tuesday, but the former is a winner in her own right. Once arrested for protesting a Trump rally, Rashida Tlaib claimed a congressional seat in Michigan as her own, defeating opponent Sam Johnson by a wide berth (91 per cent of the vote, as of this writing).
In spite of its considerable Hispanic population, Texas has actually never been represented by a Hispanic woman at the federal level. Until now. Sylvia Garcia will be the first, along with Veronica Escobar, a fellow Texas Latina; both were elected to the House on Tuesday.
Abby Finkenauer’s victory is meaningful because it flips a district that Trump won by several percentage points in 2016: Iowa’s 1st district. She beats incumbent Rob Blum.
Ilhan Omar is not only one of the first Muslim women to ever serve in Congress, but the very first Somali American woman to do so. A former refugee from Somalia, she beat her opponent by a mile in the solidly blue district.
Deb Haaland made history on Tuesday by winning her House race and becoming one of the first two Native American women to ever serve in Congress, along with Sharice Davids.
Florida has its first openly gay female mayor in Teri Johnston, who on Tuesday beat her opponent, Margaret Romero, to become Key West’s newest mayor.
Lauren Underwood successfully flipped a longtime Republican district in Illinois on Tuesday night, defeating the four-time incumbent (and Trump endorsee) Randy Hultgren.
A former judge in El Paso, Veronica Escobar joins Sylvia Garcia to become one of the two first-ever Latinas to represent Texas in Congress. She took the seat vacated by Beto O’Rourke when he ran for Senate.
Until Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s entire slate of congressional representatives were male. Wild becomes the first woman to join their ranks as a congresswoman in the state’s seventh district.
The New York attorney general’s office is well-known for its opposition to President Trump, and Leticia James was voted in, in a landslide on Tuesday, on her promise to continue rejecting the president’s proposals. ‘He should know that we here in New York – and I, in particular – we are not scared of you,’ she said in her victory speech.