POLITICS
09/17/2018 04:18 pm ET

These Candidates Are Poised To Make History In November

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib appear set to become America’s first Muslim congresswomen ― just one of several milestones that will likely be reached in the 2018 midterm elections.

The primaries for the midterm elections are now over, and 2018 promises to be a historic year for representation in political office.

Women have shattered records, with more women winning House and Senate primaries than ever before. Some of them have broken barriers with their primary wins alone ― like Christine Hallquist, who won the Democratic primary in Vermont and became the nation’s first openly transgender candidate for governor backed by a national party.

Some have tight races ahead, but if these candidates prevail in November, they will shake up the makeup of the country’s overwhelmingly white and male governors and members of Congress. Stacey Abrams in Georgia, for instance, could become the nation’s first black female governor.

Others are shoo-ins to win and make history in November, like Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, who will almost certainly become the country’s first Muslim women in Congress. They are part of a wave of progressive female candidates of color committed to challenging the Democratic Party establishment from the left.

Here’s a look at some of the candidates who will make America’s history books if they win.

Democratic progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is the favorite in her race in November. At 28, she could become
The Washington Post / Getty Images
Democratic progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is the favorite in her race in November. At 28, she could become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The 28-year-old progressive newcomer won an unexpected victory in June against powerful incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District. Now she looks set to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Stacey Abrams

The former Georgia House minority leader won her Democratic gubernatorial primary and is in a tough race, seeking to become the nation’s first black woman to serve as governor. Abrams would also be Georgia’s first female governor.

Christine Hallquist

Hallquist won the Democratic primary for governor in Vermont, becoming the country’s first openly transgender candidate to win a major party’s nomination in a gubernatorial race.

If the former CEO prevails in November, she will become the nation’s first openly transgender governor.

Rashida Tlaib

Former Michigan state legislator Rashida Tlaib won the Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat in the state’s 13th Congressional District. In a district that has historically voted Democratic — and with no Republican challengers — Tlaib is all but guaranteed a seat in Congress in November, as well as a place in U.S. history with Ilhan Omar (see below) as the first Muslim women in Congress.

Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar (left), a Democrat, hopes to be one of two Muslim women elected to Congress this year.
Bloomberg / Getty Images
Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar (left), a Democrat, hopes to be one of two Muslim women elected to Congress this year.

Ilhan Omar

State Rep. Ilhan Omar won the Democratic primary in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. In the solidly Democratic district, Omar is the favorite to prevail in November, which would make her one of the nation’s first Muslim congresswomen.

Deb Haaland

Deb Haaland won the Democratic nomination for a New Mexico congressional seat and is heavily favored to win in November. The former state party chair could become one of the nation’s first Native American women in Congress.

Sharice Davids

Sharice Davids, a former MMA fighter and White House fellow, won the Democratic nomination in a Kansas congressional district. If she wins in November, she could join Haaland as one of the first Native American women in Congress. She’d also be one of the few openly lesbian members of Congress.

Lupe Valdez

If the former Dallas County sheriff wins her tough race against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in November, she would become Texas’ first Hispanic governor and first openly queer one. She’d also be the nation’s first openly lesbian governor. (Oregon’s Kate Brown, the nation’s first openly queer person elected governor in 2016, identifies as bisexual.)

Jared Polis

Rep. Jared Polis won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Colorado. If he wins in November, he will be the nation’s first openly gay man to be elected governor.

Paulette Jordan, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Idaho, hopes to become the nation’s first Native American
Steve Marcus / Reuters
Paulette Jordan, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Idaho, hopes to become the nation’s first Native American governor.

Paulette Jordan

State legislator Paulette Jordan won the Democratic primary for governor in Idaho last month. If she wins her tough race in November, she’d become the nation’s first Native American governor.

Keith Ellison

Ellison won the Democratic primary for Minnesota attorney general, bringing him one step closer to becoming the first Muslim statewide elected official in U.S. history.

He broke barriers in 2006 as the first Muslim to be elected to the House.

Andrew Gillum

The Tallahassee mayor made history with his Democratic primary win, becoming Florida’s first African-American gubernatorial nominee. He is in a tight race; if he prevails, he’ll become the state’s first black governor.

Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally

Rep. Martha McSally won the GOP Senate primary in Arizona last month. She faces Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema ― who broke barriers in 2012 as the nation’s first openly bisexual member of Congress. Whoever wins will become Arizona’s first female senator.

Democrat Ayanna Pressley is all but guaranteed to be the first black woman from Massachusetts to be elected to the House
Brian Snyder / Reuters
Democrat Ayanna Pressley is all but guaranteed to be the first black woman from Massachusetts to be elected to the House of Representatives.

Ayanna Pressley

Boston City Council member Ayanna Pressley defeated a 10-term incumbent to win the Democratic nomination for her Massachusetts congressional district.

With no Republican on November’s ballot for the district, she is all but guaranteed to make history as the first black congresswoman from Massachusetts. Pressley broke barriers in 2009 when she became the first woman of color elected to the Boston City Council. 

Jahana Hayes

Jahana Hayes won the Democratic primary in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District. The former educator now has the potential to become the state’s first woman of color in Congress.

Kristi Noem

The GOP congresswoman won the South Dakota Republican gubernatorial primary, bringing her one step closer to becoming the first woman to serve as the state’s governor.

Letitia James

Letitia “Tish” James, currently New York City’s public advocate, won the Democratic primary for the state attorney general nomination. If she goes on to win in November ― and she is heavily favored ― she will be the first black woman to hold a major statewide office in New York.

Democratic candidate Gina Ortiz Jones — a Filipina openly lesbian Iraq War veteran from Texas — could make h
Jonathan Bachman / Reuters
Democratic candidate Gina Ortiz Jones — a Filipina openly lesbian Iraq War veteran from Texas — could make history three times over if she wins her House race.

Gina Ortiz Jones

Jones won the Democratic nomination for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District in a runoff in May. If she emerges victorious in November, she will make history three times over, as the first open lesbian, Iraq War veteran and Filipina to represent Texas in the U.S. House.

Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia

Veronica Escobar won the Democratic nomination for Texas’ 16th Congressional District in March, and state Sen. Sylvia Garcia won for Texas’ 29th. If both prevail in November, as expected, they will be Texas’ first Latina congresswomen ― in a state where nearly 40 percent of the population is Hispanic.

Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne

Democrats Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne won their primaries for congressional seats in Iowa. If they win in November, they will be the first women the state has sent to the U.S. House. Both have shots at beating the Republican incumbents.

Chris Pappas and Eddie Edwards

Former state legislator Chris Pappas won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. House seat from New Hampshire and is hoping to be the state’s first openly gay member of Congress.

In the Republican primary, former Liquor Commission official Eddie Edwards won the party’s nomination and seeks to become New Hampshire’s first black congressman.

Michelle Lujan Grisham

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham won the Democratic nomination for New Mexico governor in June. If she wins in November, she will be the first Latina Democratic governor in U.S. history ― following the nation’s first Latina governor, New Mexico’s Susana Martinez, a Republican who could not seek re-election this year because of term limits.

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