How the midterms made history: Numerous firsts emerge from Election Night results

A polarized political environment drew record-setting early voting and heavy Election Day turnout for the 2018 midterm elections. It also brought a number of firsts.

The midterms saw an unprecedented number of female candidates, first-time candidates and LGBT candidates for office. At least 244 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates ran for office on all levels of government this year, including 21 candidates for Congress and four for governor.

A record one-third of the candidates running for the House were women of color, and a record number of women overall were running for office in 2018, according to Emily’s List, a Democratic-leaning nonprofit that supports women in politics. Some 234 women won House and Senate primaries in 2018. Women have never held more than 20% of congressional seats.

Here are some of the firsts that occurred on Tuesday night:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Youngest woman ever elected to Congress

The Democratic candidate from New York just turned 29, making her the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She beat longtime Democrat incumbent Rep. Joseph Crowley in a major upset in the primaries and has since become a prominent voice on the left with her outspoken support of Democratic socialism.



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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez celebrates her stunning primary win in June with supporters in the Bronx.
Sharice Davids: First lesbian Native American woman elected to Congress

The Democratic candidate defeated Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder on Tuesday to become the first openly LGBT person to represent Kansas and the first open lesbian and Native American woman in Congress. The attorney and former professional mixed-martial-arts fighter campaigned on strengthening public education and “working together to get things done in Washington.”

Lou Leon Guerrero: First woman governor of Guam

The Democrat got 50.7% of the vote to become the first woman governor of Guam, a U.S. territory. She is the ninth elected governor of Guam, which cannot vote in presidential elections but has a U.S. House member who does not vote.



Courtesy of Leon

Ayanna Pressley: First black woman Massachusetts has elected to Congress

The Democratic candidate easily became the first black woman from Massachusetts to go to Congress, with no Republican opposing her on the ballot. She beat a 10-term Democrat in an upset in the primaries, calling President Donald Trump “racist, misogynistic, truly empathy-bankrupt” in her victory speech.



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Ayanna Pressley speaks to reporters after voting at the Adams Street Library on Election Day in Boston.
Jared Polis: First openly gay governor in the U.S.

The Democratic candidate beat out Republican candidate Walker Stapleton to become the first openly gay person in the U.S. to be elected governor. He has supported Medicare for all and advocated for stricter gun laws.



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Rep. Jared Polis participates in an immigration-reform event at the U.S. Capitol in 2014.
Marsha Blackburn: First woman Tennessee has elected to U.S. Senate

The Republican candidate beat out Democrat Phil Bredesen, a former governor, to win Tennessee’s Senate race, at 55% of the vote as compared with Bredesen’s 42%. She is an eight-term congresswoman who supports Trump, says she’s proud to be politically incorrect and has advocated for stricter immigration laws.



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Rep. Marsha Blackburn speaks to supporters during a Monday campaign stop in Maryville, Tenn. She’s kept the seat held by Sen. Bob Corker in Republican hands.
Rashida Tlaib: First Muslim woman elected to Congress and first Palestinian-American elected to Congress

The Democratic candidate will become, along with Ilahn Omar of Minnesota, the first Muslim woman elected to Congress after winning in Michigan. She did not have a Republican opponent. The Somali-American is backed by the Democratic Socialists of America and will replace Rep. John Conyers, who left office after allegations of sexual misconduct.



Courtesy of Rashida Tlaib

Rashida Tlaib.
Ilahn Omar: First Muslim woman elected to Congress and first Somali-American elected to Congress

The Democratic candidate beat out Republican opponent Jennifer Zielinski in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional district to become the first Somali-American elected to Congress and along with Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.

Debra Haaland: First Native American woman elected to U.S. Congress

The Democratic candidate defeated Republican candidate Janice Arnold-Jones for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District. She joins Sharice Davids of Kansas as the first two Native American women elected to Congress.

Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia: First Latina women elected to U.S. Congress from Texas

Escobar, a Democrat from El Paso, beat out Republican opponent Rick Seeberger for a seat in Congress, while Sylvia Garcia, also a Democrat, bested Republican Phillip Aronoff.

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Kari Paul is a personal finance reporter based in New York. You can follow her on Twitter @kari_paul.

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