November 6th is coming up. Historic wins are expected for women across the board.
This midterm election has been described as the “Pink Wave,” the second “Year of the Women,” a year of unprecedented “firsts.” Not only are a record number of women running for the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate, governorships, and other offices across the country, but this election could also result in the first black woman to serve as governor, the first Native American woman to serve in Congress, and the first openly bisexual senator, among other firsts.
Brett Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation to the Supreme Court, which replaces Anthony Kennedy’s swing vote and confirms a conservative majority in the “highest court in the land,” sparked national outcry and discussions on gender equality, class, and privilege. While this certainly feels like a significant setback for women’s advocates across the country, November’s election provides an opportunity for a new wave of female politicians to enter the mix.
Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 and the #MeToo movement have inspired an unprecedented number of women to take action and run for office, many of whom are first-time candidates. According to The New Yorker, 472 women are running for the U.S. House of Representatives, 57 women have filed or are likely to run for the U.S. Senate and 78 women are likely to run for governor. Analyses predict that for the first time in history, more than 100 women will be elected to the House, with the number of Democratic female candidates running up 146 percent from 2016. Between 30 and 40 women are expected to become new members of the House, shattering the previous record of 24, which was set in 1992’s “Year of the Women.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this surge of female candidates entering the House is being driven entirely by Democrats, with the number of Republican women in the house actually set to decline. According to an NBC report, while the 61 female Democrats serving in the House could expand by more than a third, the 23 female Republicans may shrink by the same factor.
This unprecedented line-up of passionate, talented women have only begun their journey, and are among countless others who are running for local offices and taking active initiative in their communities.
Interestingly, inequalities in minority representation between parties are widening as well, with the proportion of white men serving as House Republicans poised to increase from 86 to 87 percent, compared to a decrease from 41 to 37 percent among House Democrats.
Pennsylvania stands out as the state in which Democratic women are expected to have the most success. 126 women are on Pennsylvania’s ballot, with a record 118 Pennsylvania women running for state office and eight women running for U.S. Congress, of whom 91 are Democrats and 35 are Republicans. Pennsylvania’s Democratic women are poised to gain the largest number of seats in the House, with Texas close behind. These women, all hailing from Philadelphia suburbs, include Madeleine Dean (District 4), Mary Gay Scanlon (District 5), Chrissy Houlahan (District 6) and Susan Wild (District 7).
In light of this widespread action from women all over the country, it is more appropriate to view this November’s election as the “dawn of a new decade,” as opposed to simply a “Year of the Women.” This unprecedented line-up of passionate, talented women have only begun their journey, and are among countless others who are running for local offices and taking active initiative in their communities. We are looking at the beginning of a new decade of leadership.
Read on for a closer look at some of the exceptional women who could make history in this midterm election.
Stacey Abrams, Dem.
Could become the first black female governor in the U.S.
Stacy Abrams, a former state legislator from Georgia, has already made history as the country’s first black female gubernatorial nominee from a major party. Abrams is facing an uphill battle, running in a state that has not elected a Democratic governor since 1998. She has run her campaign as “an unapologetic progressive,” targeting non-voters and people of color to expand the electorate. Abrams faces off against Republican Brian Kemp in the 2018 midterms.
Lupe Valdez, Dem.
Could become the first openly gay and Latina governor.
Already in the history books for becoming the first openly gay candidate to win the Texas gubernatorial nomination, Lupe Valdez will face off against incumbent Republican governor Greg Abbott in November. In an interview with TIME Magazine, Valdez spoke of the “uphill battles” she has been facing and conquering her entire life, asserting that she is “not done yet.”
Deb Haaland, Dem.
Congress: New Mexico, District 1
Could become the first Native American woman to serve in Congress.
Running in a district that typically votes Democratic, Deb Haaland is likely to win the race in November and secure her spot as the first Native American woman to serve in Congress. Haaland’s platform prioritizes Medicare for All, combating climate and environment issues such as the fossil fuel industry, supporting working families. She also advocates for women’s right to choose, pay equality, transgender rights, and racial justice.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Dem.
Congress: New York, District 14
Could become the youngest woman elected to congress
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at 28 years old, won the Democratic nomination for her district in a stunning upset, defeating 10-term congressman Joe Crowley, and all but securing her seat in Congress. The young activist has attracted attention for her platform, which she describes as democratic socialism. She has advocated for Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage and housing as a human right, among other things.
Krysten Sinema, Dem.
Could become the first openly bisexual senator.
Kyrsten Sinema, currently serving in the U.S. House, will face off against Republican Martha McSally in November, both hoping to make history, since whoever wins will be the first female senator from Arizona. Sinema, in addition focusing on issues regarding VA medical care, national security, helping small businesses and more, fights for women’s rights on her platform, particularly for equal pay, parental leave, women’s health care, and increased provision of education, job training, and STEM opportunities to young women and girls.
Rashida Tlaib, Dem.
Congress: Michigan, District 13
Could (actually, will very likely!) become the first Muslim woman and the first Palestinian-American in Congress.
Rashida Tlaib, a state representative of Michigan, is running unopposed for the seat to represent the state. She won the Democratic nomination for former representative John Conyers’ seat in Congress in August. Tlaib’s platform stresses the need for a guarantee of Equal Rights for All, advocating for LGBTQ rights and immigration reform, and to overturn the Muslim ban.
Ilhan Omar, who won a Democratic primary for a House seat in Minnesota, will share the distinction of first Muslim woman in Congress with Tlaib if they both win their races in November.
Christine Hallquist, Dem.
Could become the first openly transgender governor.
Christine Hallquist, who will face off against Republican incumbent governor Phil Scott, with hopeful odds based on Vermont’s history of switching between Republican and Democratic governors since the 1960s. In her platform, Christine emphasizes “Inclusion for All Vermonters,” stressing that she wants to address racial disparities and ensure that Vermont’s communities are welcoming to all, including marginalized groups. She also focuses on climate change issues and wants to continue the Solar Pathways Vermont plan, as well as raise the minimum hourly wage to $15.
Some other candidates up for positions that would break records include Republican Marsha Blackburn, who could become Tennessee’s first female Senator, Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, who could become the first Filipina-American in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat Ayanna Pressley, who could become the first black Congresswoman from Massachusetts, and Democrat Ilhan Omar, who could become the first Somali-American in Congress.
(Illustration: Sophie Lee)