Tuesday’s election not only brought Democratic wins in high-profile gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, but it also saw historic victories for women, minority and LGBTQ candidates in down-ballot races nationwide.
In the northern Virginia suburb of Prince William County, Danica Roem became the first openly transgender candidate to win a statehouse seat anywhere in the country. She defeated the long-time Republican incumbent, social conservative Robert Marshall.
Roem outraised Marshall, who called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe,” 3 to 1. Marshall, who had served 13 terms, was the sponsor of a so-called “bathroom bill” that died in committee. But voters seemed more concerned about local issues like traffic congestion in electing the former journalist.
Also in Virginia, Kathy Tran, a refugee from Vietnam, became the first Asian-American woman elected to the House of Delegates. And Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala both defeated Republican incumbents to become the first Latina women elected to the chamber.
Andrea Jenkins won election to the Minneapolis City Council, becoming the first openly transgender person of color elected to office in the U.S. Jenkins was a policy aide on the city council and won more than 70 percent of the vote.
Across the Mississippi River, Melvin Carter was elected the first African-American mayor of St. Paul.
In Hoboken, N.J., Ravi Bhalla was elected mayor, making him the city’s first Sikh American chief executive. Bhalla had served on the city council for eight years. His campaign was the subject of racist flyers, showing a picture of Bhalla in his turban and the message, “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!”
Some of the other firsts:
- Wilmot Collins, a refugee from Liberia, was elected mayor of Helena Mont., becoming the state’s first black mayor.
- Seattle elected its first female mayor since 1926. Jenny Durkan will also be the city’s first lesbian mayor, winning the post vacated by Ed Murray, who resigned after several men accused him of sexually abusing them.
- Charlotte, N.C., elected its first female African American mayor, Democrat Vi Lyles.
- Manchester, N.H., the state’s largest city, elected its first female mayor in its 266-year history, Joyce Craig. She defeated Republican incumbent Ted Gatsas.