The off-year race brought a night of firsts, with several women and minorities blazing new trails
Take a hike, glass ceiling.
Tuesday’s off-year election — almost exactly one year after President Trump clinched his jaw-dropping victory — saw both New Jersey and Virginia usher in Democrat governors, Virginia Dems pick up sizable state legislature gains, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio coast easily to a second term, and Maine approve Medicaid expansion.
But it was also a night of notable firsts, as several women and minority candidates blazed new trails. Here’s who made history:
Danica Roem: The heavy-metal vocalist, former journalist and Democrat became the first openly transgender candidate to be elected to Virginia’s state legislature. She beat 26-year incumbent Bob Marshall, who architected a “bathroom bill,” referred to Roem using male pronouns and once branded himself the commonwealth’s “chief homophobe.”
Vi Lyles: The Democrat city hall veteran became Charlotte, N.C.’s first female African-American mayor, handily defeating Republican rival Kenny Smith. “With this opportunity you’ve given me, you’ve proven that we are a city of opportunity and inclusiveness,” she told supporters, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Jenny Durkan: Durkan, who was the Barack Obama-appointed first openly gay U.S. attorney, bested urban planner Cary Moon to become Seattle’s first openly lesbian mayor. The victor of the all-woman race is also the progressive Emerald City’s first female mayor to be elected since 1926.
Ravi Bhalla: Hoboken’s new Mayor-elect will be New Jersey’s first Sikh mayor. The win came just days after City Councilman Bhalla, an Indian-American who wears a turban in accordance with his faith, found his face plastered on racist mailers painting him as a “terrorist.” The candidate, in response, vowed not to “let hate win.”
Sheila Oliver: The Garden State also made history with Jersey’s first female African-American lieutenant governor. Oliver — who was the state’s first black woman to serve as Assembly speaker — will succeed Kim Guadagno, who ran a Chris Christie-tainted gubernatorial campaign against Oliver’s running mate, Democrat Phil Murphy.
Andrea Jenkins: In nabbing a seat on the Minneapolis City Council, Jenkins is believed to be the first openly transgender African-American woman elected to public office. “I know firsthand the feeling of being marginalized, left out, thrown under the bus,” she said in a victory speech, according to Fox affiliate KMSP. “Those days are over.”
Hala Ayala and Elizabeth Guzman: The two Democrats became the first two Latinas elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates. Virginia Lieutenant Governor-elect Justin Fairfax, an attorney, was the second-ever African-American elected to statewide office.
Wilmot Collins: Collins, a refugee from Liberia who later became a U.S. Naval Reserves member, unseated Helena, Mont. Mayor Jim Smith to become the first black mayor in Montana history.
Melvin Carter: Carter, a former City Council member, will be St. Paul, Minn.’s first African-American mayor. “Being able to look at that office, look at that space and see someone who reflects the diversity of this whole city is something that is critical to building the city for the future, building the city that works for everybody,” he said, per CBS affiliate WCCO.
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