Some candidates didn’t just win on Tuesday, they also broke barriers.
Those victories included the first female governors elected in Arkansas, Massachusetts and New York; the first Black person to be elected governor of Maryland; and the first member of Gen Z to be elected to Congress.
In some ways, this election had already made history for the diversity of candidates. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people ran for office in all 50 states for the first time, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund. The number of such candidates on the ballot also increased 18 percent from 2020, it said, many of them galvanized by a wave of measures in Republican-led states attacking the community.
This cycle also set records for the number of women running for governor, said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. But the same was not true of the Senate and the House, where female candidates in the general election fell short of the highs reached in 2018 and 2020, respectively.
“You can’t expect a 2018 or a 2020 every election cycle,” Walsh said. But “it doesn’t mean we’re not seeing progress.”
The overturning of Roe v. Wade could also have far-reaching impacts, Walsh said. By the time the Supreme Court issued its decision in June, the ballot deadlines for November’s elections had nearly all passed. But looking ahead to 2024, Walsh said, the ruling on abortion might be “another one of those catalyzing moments that propels women to step off the sidelines.”
Here are some of the candidates who made history Tuesday:
Moore, 44, a Democrat and a political newcomer, will become the first Black governor in Maryland’s history. Moore will be the only Black governor in the country and the third elected since Reconstruction. The other two were Deval Patrick in Massachusetts and Douglas Wilder in Virginia.
Sanders, a Republican, won her race and will become the first female governor of Arkansas. Sanders, 40, was press secretary for President Donald Trump and is the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Healey, a 51-year-old Democrat who is the attorney general of Massachusetts, became the first openly lesbian woman to be elected governor in the country. She is also the first woman to be elected governor in the state’s history.
Mullin, 45, a Republican member of Congress and a tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation, won election to the U.S. Senate. He will be the first Native American senator in nearly two decades and the first Native American senator from Oklahoma in a century.
Frost, 25, is a liberal Democrat and the first member of Gen Z — which according to Pew Research Center refers to people born after 1996 — to win a seat in Congress. Frost, an activist, will represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District, a deep-blue constituency.
Hochul, 64, was appointed governor last year and on Tuesday became the first woman elected to lead New York. She fended off a challenge from Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) that had rattled Democrats in a state where they outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1.
Balint, 54, a liberal Democrat, won her race to become Vermont’s lone member of the House of Representatives, the first time the state has elected a woman to Congress. Vermont is the last state to send a woman to Washington, behind Mississippi, which reached the same milestone in 2018. Balint is also the first openly gay person to represent the state.
Britt, a Republican, is the first woman to be elected to the Senate from Alabama. Britt, 40, is a first-time candidate and lawyer who previously worked as the chief of staff for Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), who is retiring. Two other women have been appointed to the Senate from Alabama.
Padilla, 49, is the first Latino elected to the Senate from California. A Democrat and former California secretary of state, Padilla was appointed to the seat left vacant by Vice President Harris in 2021.
Lee, 34, who has served as a Democratic state representative, is the first Black woman elected to Congress from Pennsylvania. A former labor organizer, she won election in the state’s newly redrawn 12th Congressional District that covers much of Pittsburgh.
Ramirez, a 39-year-old Democrat, will be the first Latina to represent Illinois in Congress. The daughter of immigrant parents from Guatemala, Ramirez won election in the state’s 3rd Congressional District.
Sorensen, 46, is the first openly gay person elected to Congress from Illinois. A Democrat and former weatherman, Sorensen will represent the state’s 17th Congressional District.
A pediatrician, state legislator and the daughter of immigrants, Caraveo, a 41-year-old Democrat, is the first Latina elected to Congress from Colorado. Her Republican opponent conceded late Tuesday but the Associated Press has not yet made a call in the race.