The counting of votes in the United States midterm elections is still underway, but the country’s women and the LGBTQI+ community have much to cheer for already.
Why? From three states – Arkansas, New York, and Massachusetts – electing their first women governors to Democrat Becca Balint becoming the first woman and openly gay person to represent Vermont in Congress, Americans have hit more than a few milestones in this midterm elections.
It matters, because… Now, all 50 states in the US have elected to send a woman to Congress, with Vermont being the final state. Also, a record number of women ran for the governor’s post in this race.
Why was this race important? Even before the results were out, history was made with candidates from the LGBTQI+ community running for office in all 50 states for the first time. Democrat Aruna Miller also broke a record by becoming the first Indian American to be the lieutenant governor of Maryland.
Who are they? Meet the women who have rewritten history in more ways than one in the US midterm elections so far:
By winning the race, 54-year-old Becca Balint, a liberal Democrat, has become the first woman and openly gay person to be elected to Congress from Vermont. Vermont is the last state in the US to send a woman to Congress.
“Today, we reaffirmed that Vermont, and this nation, is still a place where anything is possible. We’re still capable of change and progress,” Balint wrote on Instagram after her win on Tuesday night.
Fifty-one-year-old Democrat Maura Healey became the first openly lesbian woman to be elected governor in the country. Healy, who is the attorney general of Massachusetts, is also the first woman to be elected governor in the state.
“We might be the first, but we won't be the last. To every little girl out there, we want you to know – there's no ceiling you can't break,” she posted on Twitter.
Republican candidate Sarah Sanders is set to be the first woman governor of Arkansas. Forty-year-old Sanders was press secretary when Donald Trump was president. She is the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Taking to Twitter after her win, she said, “Thank you Arkansas! It's a tremendous honor to be your Governor-elect and I will not let you down.”
Sixty-four-year-old Kathy Hochul became the first elected woman governor of New York on Tuesday. The Democrat, who previously served as the state’s lieutenant governor, assumed office last year after Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned from his post.
“I may be New York’s first woman governor, but I know I won’t be the last,” she tweeted.
Fifty-eight-year-old Democrat Aruna Miller is the first Indian American and South Asian woman to be elected lieutenant governor of Maryland. Born in Hyderabad, Miller moved to New York with her parents at the age of seven. A Democratic member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Miller represented District 15 from 2011 to 2019.
Summer Lee is the first Black woman to be elected to Congress from Pennsylvania. The 34-year-old, who has served as a Democratic state representative, used to be a labour organiser. Lee’s promises included racial justice, medicare for all, and green policies.
“My hometown was supposed to be the American dream. Our labor made the steel that built America but when the mills left, we paid the price. Now I’m bringing the fight I’ve been in my whole life to Washington,” she tweeted.
Nabeela Syed, a 23-year-old Indian American Muslim woman, won the election for the 51st House district of the Illinois state legislature. She is the first South Asian in the Illinois state legislature and also the youngest member of the state assembly.
After the win, she took to Twitter to say: “My name is Nabeela Syed. I’m a 23-year old Muslim, Indian-American woman. We just flipped a Republican-held suburban district.”
Republican Katie Britt, 40, became the first woman to be elected to the Senate from Alabama. Contesting elections for the first time, Britt previously worked for Senator Richard C Shelby as chief of staff.
"Parents, families, and hardworking Alabamians across our state made our voices heard – loud and clear – that this is our time. 2022 is the Year of the Parent," Britt tweeted.
After her win to represent Ohio in the House, Democrat Marcy Kaptur is set to become the longest-serving woman in Congress, entering her 21st term. Seventy-six-year-old Kaptur will break a record set by Barbara Mikulski, former Maryland senator, who represented the state in the House and Senate for a total of 40 years.
Democrat Delia Ramirez will be the first Latina to represent Illinois in Congress. Born to an immigrant family from Guatemala, the 39-year-old also became the first Guatemalan American to serve in the Illinois General Assembly when she was elected in 2018.
(With inputs from The Washington Post, CNBC.)