Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, Jahana Hayes in Connecticut and Christine Hallquist in Vermont all broke new ground in U.S. politics.
Multiple diverse candidates — including a black woman and a transgender woman — shattered glass ceilings with their victories in Tuesday’s primary elections.
Ilhan Omar, a progressive Minnesota state legislator who fled Somalia’s civil war when she was 8, won the Democratic nomination Tuesday for the state’s 5th congressional district. Favored to win in November’s general election, 36-year-old Omar would fill the seat of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who won his Democratic primary for Minnesota attorney general amid allegations of domestic abuse.
Omar, backed by New York insurgent Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would also be the first Somali-American in Congress — and, along with Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women. In fact, according to Gender Watch 2018, she’d be the first woman of color elected to Congress in Minnesota. She faced far-right and Islamophobic attacks during her campaign.
“We started this campaign to prove people are ready and willing to fight for an America that works for all of us. To every staff member, volunteer, donor, and voter, this win is just as much yours as it is mine,” Omar tweeted Tuesday night. “Together, we will move our district, state and nation forward.”
Meanwhile, Jahana Hayes, 2016’s National Teacher of the Year, triumphed in the Democratic primary for Connecticut’s 5th district. If elected in November to the seat vacated by Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), the former social studies teacher would become the first black Democrat elected to Congress from Connecticut.
“I hear from people every day. They’re so inspired by what I’m doing. Young girls are saying, ‘I see myself in you,’” Hayes, 46, told the New York Times in a recent interview. “And if I were able to pull this off, and we can bring that narrative to Connecticut — that no matter who you are and where you come from, that you have a message and a voice that’s important and you’re welcome here. I’ve seen how empowering that can be.”
And Christine Hallquist, 62, clinched a win in Vermont’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, making her the first-ever openly transgender major-party gubernatorial nominee, according to the Associated Press. If elected, the former energy company exec would be the first openly trans U.S. governor and the first openly trans person to be elected statewide in Vermont, per the nonprofit Victory Fund, which works to elect LGBTQ candidates to public office.
“Christine’s victory is a defining moment in the movement for trans equality and is especially remarkable given how few out trans elected officials there are at any level of government. Many thought it unthinkable a viable trans gubernatorial candidate like Christine would emerge so soon,” Victory Fund president and CEO Annise Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city, said in a statement. “Yet Vermont voters chose Christine not because of her gender identity, but because she is an open and authentic candidate with a long history of service to the state, and who speaks to the issues most important to voters.”
With Hallquist’s win, noted Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson, “all 4 letters in LGBT acronym have won Democratic nomination to run for governor this year”: Lupe Valdez, a lesbian candidate running for governor in Texas; Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a gay candidate running for governor in Colorado; Gov. Kate Brown, the bisexual incumbent in Oregon; and now Hallquist in Vermont.
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