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2020 Congressional races see historic victories for women of color, Indigenous, and LGBTQ candidates

Uncertainty over Trump and Biden aside, this year’s House election winners included a number of history-making firsts.

2020 Congressional races see historic victories for women of color, Indigenous, and LGBTQ candidates
[Photo: Alejandro Barba/Unsplash]
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We may not know the final outcome of the presidential election for days (dare we say weeks?). But at this point, we know that candidates who won seats in Congress are making the legislative body more equitably representative of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ lawmakers.

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Among the candidates who cinched victories, there were some historic firsts:

  • Cori Bush became the first Black female elected to Congress in the State of Missouri.
  • Democrat Ritchie Torres, the first openly gay Afro-Latino elected to the House, and Democrat Mondaire Jones of New York, the first openly gay Black man elected to the House, were elected to the House.
  • Six Indigenous candidates won House seats, setting a record for representation. Among them are the first two Native women: Deb Haaland (a Democrat from New Mexico) and Sharice Davids (a Democrat from Kansas). The other Indigenous candidates elected are Republicans Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullin (both from Oklahoma), Yvette Herrell (a Republican from New Mexico), and Democrat Kaiali’i “Kai” Kahele (from Hawaii).
  • Haaland and Herrell are joined by Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez (from New Mexico), making New Mexico’s delegation the first one made up entirely of women of color.
  • The win of Susan Collins (a Republican from Maine) makes her the first woman to be elected to a fifth Senate term in the State of Maine.
  • Other women newly elected to Congress include Republican Diana Harshbarger (from Tennessee), whose win broke into the nine-member all-male delegation in that state; Democrat Nikema Williams (from Georgia); Republican Cynthia Lummis (from Wyoming), and Republican Maria Elvira Salazar (from Florida).

Before this election, there were 535 members of the 116th Congress. Of them, 10 are LGBT (two in the Senate and eight in the House of Representatives), 127 are women (26 in the Senate and 101 in the House of Representatives), and 116 are nonwhite (including Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American candidates). The results of the current election will continue to make Congress more diverse and representative of the U.S. population, but experts estimate it will take nearly a century for it even to reach gender parity.

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About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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