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US midterm elections 2018

The candidates who made history at the 2018 US midterm elections

  • Diverse candidates are hoping to break barriers across the country. Here are the key wins so far
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2018, 2:39pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2018, 11:47pm

Groundbreaking campaigns have broken barriers this election, with historic candidates changing the face of Congress and statehouses across the US.

Women have run in record numbers, and Native Americans, Muslims, Latinos, immigrants, millennials and LGBT candidates have already made history with their campaigns.

Here are the key trailblazing candidates who are diversifying American politics and have already won their races so far.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, youngest woman elected to Congress

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise victory in the June congressional primary in New York shook up Washington and the Democratic Party. The progressive challenger and member of the Democratic socialist party unseated a powerful 10-term New York congressman, running with a campaign ad that said: “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.”

Now age 29, she has become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Elise Stefanik previously held the record when she was elected to Congress at age 30 in 2014.

Related: Ballot measures latest: Florida restores voting rights of ex-felons

Ocasio-Cortez is the daughter of a Puerto Rican mother and a Bronx-born father and grew up in a working-class community. She ran a grass roots campaign that took on the “Queens Democratic Party machine” and championed progressive proposals, such as the abolition of the Immigration Customs Enforcement (Ice), a single-payer health care plan and tuition-free college.

Ayanna Pressley, first black House member from Massachusetts

Pressley was the first black woman to serve on Boston’s city council and made history again after defeating the 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano in the primary. She did not face a challenger in the general election, making her the first black member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts.

In her victory speech in September, she said: “These times demanded more from our leaders and from our party. These times demanded an approach to governing that was bold, uncompromising and unafraid. It’s not just good enough to see the Democrats back in power but it matters who those Democrats are.”

Rashida Tlaib, first Muslim congresswoman

Tlaib ran unopposed in her race to represent Michigan’s 17th district and has become the nation’s first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, and one of two Muslim women elected on Tuesday.

She is a Democratic-Socialist who served on the state legislature from 2009 to 2014 and ran her congressional primary campaign supporting Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage and abolishing Ice. Tlaib was famously escorted from a Trump rally in 2016 as she shouted questions at the candidate, asking him if he had ever read the constitution.

Ilhan Omar, first Muslim congresswoman, first Somali-American in Congress

Omar is a former Somali refugee who spent the last four years as a state legislator pushing a progressive agenda, including a US$15 minimum wage and subsidising higher education costs for low-income students.

Her congressional platform has included the cancellation of student debt, banning private prisons and aggressive funding cuts to military spending. In 2016, she became the first Somali-American legislator in the country.

Jared Polis, first openly gay man elected governor

As the Democratic nominee for governor in Colorado, Polis ran on a leftwing platform, which included single-payer health care, repeal of the death penalty, universal full-day preschool and stronger gun laws. Polis, who declared victory late Tuesday night, has long been outspoken in favour of marijuana legalisation.

Kate Brown, who is bisexual, became the first openly LGBT person elected governor in 2016 when she won her Oregon race. Jim McGreevey, a Democrat and former New Jersey governor, came out while in office in 2004.

Sharice Davids, first Native American congresswoman

A lawyer and former MMA fighter, Davids became the first Native American congresswoman and the first lesbian congresswoman from Kansas.

Raised by a single mother army veteran and a member of the Wisconsin-based Ho-Chunk Nation, Davids was a fellow in the Obama White House.