The Slatest

The Many Historic Firsts From the 2018 Midterms

Ilhan Omar smiling, with a crowd behind her.
Ilhan Omar (above) and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images

The midterm elections on Tuesday ended with Democrats taking control of the House and Republicans fortifying their hold on the Senate. It was also a night of historic firsts in both congressional bodies and in states across the country.

Here’s a look at some of the milestones from this year’s elections.

• Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. The congresswomen ran on progressive platforms and both trounced their opponents in the polls.


• New Mexico Democrat Debra Haaland and Kansas Democrat Sharice Davids became the first Native American women to be elected to Congress. Davids, a former professional mixed martial arts fighter and Obama White House alumna, is also the second-ever openly lesbian woman to serve in Congress after Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin.


• Jared Polis became the United States’ first openly gay governor after he won the seat in Colorado. Polis had also been the first openly gay man to be elected to the House in 2008.

• New York Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at 29 years old. Ocasio-Cortez’s celebrity skyrocketed in June when she beat prominent Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in the primaries.


• Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia were elected as Texas’ first Latina congresswomen. Both ran as Democrats and are also the state’s first freshman women elected for full terms in Congress in 20 years, according to the Texas Tribune.

• Democrat Ayanna Pressley will be the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress. She unseated Rep. Michael Capuano in an upset in a September primary and ran unopposed in the general election.

• Republican Kim Reynolds became the first woman to be elected as governor of Iowa. She had been serving as an interim governor after President Donald Trump appointed her predecessor, Terry Branstad, to serve as the ambassador to China.

• Republican Kristi Noem will serve as South Dakota’s first female governor. She is also the first person to become governor after representing the state in Congress.

• Either Democrat Kyrsten Sinema or Republican Martha McSally will become the first woman to represent Arizona in the Senate. Their race is currently too close to call.

• Republican Marsha Blackburn became the first woman elected to represent Tennessee in the Senate. She defeated the state’s former governor, Phil Bredesen.

• A record number of women won seats in the House, with at least 100 female representatives expected to serve the next term. The previous record was 85 representatives.