Pink Wave: Women to Flood Congress After Historic Election Night

Minnie Murray
November 8, 2018

Among this new class, history was made in pairs: American voters elected the two first ever Latinas to represent Texas, the first Muslim American women in Congress, and the first Native American women in Congress.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old Hispanic activist who won a surprising primary victory against a 10-term white incumbent, is the youngest woman elected to Congress. Ayanna Pressley, a 44-year-old member of the Boston City Council who scored a similar upset win, is the first black woman elected to Congress from MA.

For starters, there looks set to be at least 100 women in the House of Representatives for the first time, with 95 already declared winners while other races are still being counted (including a number of races where both candidates are female).

Ilhan Omar, congresswoman-elect for Minnesota's 5th district.Rashida Tlaib, congresswoman-elect for Michigan's 13th district.

Ocasio-Cortez, a Boston University graduate who worked for the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, defeated Democratic US Representative Joe Crowley in a party primary earlier this year.

Some of the big wins for Democrats on Tuesday were experienced leaders, like Michigan's Gov. -elect Gretchen Whitmer, who led the Democrats in the state Senate, or Kansas's Gov. -elect Laura Kelly, who has served in the Kansas state Senate since 2005. In Maine, Democrat Janet Mills will become the state's first woman governor, and in South Dakota, Republican Kristi Noem will be the first women to lead the state.

Commenting on the Democrats taking the House, CNN's Van Jones pointed to the diversity of candidates that won seats in this midterms. In Georgia, domestic workers organized by Care In Action contacted more than 500,000 voters and sent almost 1.5 million text messages in support of Stacey Abrams for Governor - 90% of those activists were women. And although she has some age on Ocasio-Cortez - she's turning 30 in December - Finkenauer is still one of the youngest people ever elected to the House.

She added that even women of colour who were unsuccessful will inspire a new crop of candidates, similar to the white women encouraged to run after Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential election loss.

Women made history in the 2018 midterm elections.

Democrat Mike Espy, who will face Mississippi Republican Representative Cindy Hyde-Smith in a December runoff, could become the state's first black senator since Reconstruction.

Many on the left saw this and the deflation of the "blue wave" as evidence that white women were not pulling their weight at the polling booth to help their progressive vision come to fruition. When she's sworn in, she'll be the youngest women to ever serve in Congress.

It remains to be seen whether the new Democratic House (and its state-level affiliates) will be up to the challenge of confronting Trump's wild abuses of power and constructing a policy agenda to heal the massive problems besetting America on all sides. Democratic women won one Republican-held seat in IL, two in Iowa, and one in Kansas.

In Colorado, Jared Polis will be the country's first openly gay man elected governor.

And several of the female candidates broke records of their own.

From Florida to New Mexico, these candidates brought platforms that stood for a range of issues such as affordable health care, gun safety and climate change.

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