Okay, I won’t lie. Things were a little rough here in the overnight hours Tuesday then into Wednesday morning. Well, pretty much all of Wednesday. And maybe a wee bit of Thursday, too.
I was deep in my feelings about how, as Joey put it, it’s hard to live blue in a red state. Amen, sister.
But this is Friday – well, Thursday evening, if you count when I’m writing this – and I’m climbing out of my little pity party to get my head back in the game. So, without further ado, here are some things worth celebrating about Tuesday’s midterms. You know, besides the fact that people actually cared enough to show up and vote.
Meet Lauren Underwood. She’s a 32-year-old nurse who unseated a four-term Republican incumbent to win a seat in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District. This newbie politician has never held elected office and as an African American woman pulled her win from a district that is 86 percent white. Underwood is a former advisor to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is dedicated to protecting people with pre-existing conditions through the Affordable Care Act.
Meet Rachael Rollins. She’s the first woman and first African American to be elected Boston’s District Attorney. Rollins ran with a commitment to help check mass incarceration and racial disparities in the justice system, build trust between communities and law enforcement, end cash bail, and emphasize diversity in hiring prosecutors.
Meet Ayanna Pressley. She’s the first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts. While she ran unopposed on Election Day you can visit this link to see the moment Pressley learned she’d beat out a 10-time incumbent to take her turn in Washington. In her interview with The Root Pressley says, “People don’t live in checked boxes. They don’t live in hashtags and bumper sticker slogans. They live in nuance. They live in intersectionality. And those are the type of policies we have to develop.” Preach.
Meet Jahana Hayes. Another first – she will be Connecticut’s first black woman in Congress. Hayes is a 2016 National Teacher of the Year (holla!) and had never run for office before feeling compelled to take responsibility and speak up for her community.
Meet Wesley Bell. He’s been elected to be St. Louis County’s first black prosecutor. He ran unopposed on November 6th but to get there he had to oust the Democratic incumbent Robert P. McCulloch (who’s held the position for 27 years) in the primary. Bell’s ready to revamp the approach in a system responsible for the Darren Wilson grand jury and Ferguson.
Meet Ilhan Omar. She is the first refugee, first Somali-American, and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. She took home 78 percent of the vote in Minnesota’s 5th district and is also the first woman of color to represent Minnesota in Congress. Omar’s victory speech noted, “When people were selling the politics of fear and division and destruction, we were talking about hope. We were talking about the politics of joy.” Yes!
Meet Rashida Tlaib. She is a Muslim woman elected to serve in Congress from Michigan’s 13th District. Tlaib was born to Palestinian parents and first made history when she was elected in 2008 as the first Muslim woman elected to be State Representative.
Meet Sharice Davids. She’s the first openly gay person elected to Congress in Kansas. She’s also one of the first two Native Americans set to serve in Congress beginning in January.
Meet Deb Haaland. She’s a Native American woman elected to serve New Mexico’s First Congressional District. Haaland has been focused on progressive issues like universal Medicare and a $15 minimum wage but states she’s most passionate about the environment.
Meet Colin Allred. A former NFL player making his first run for elected office, Allred ousted an 11 term Republican in Dallas County’s 32nd Congressional District. He’s ready to bring new ideas and a fresh approach to a community anxious for change.
Meet Antonio Delgado. He’ll be representing New York’s 19th District in Congress. This black 41-year-old lawyer and first time candidate campaigned against an opponent and conservative groups who argued that his time as a rapper in college made him unfit to represent a predominantly white district. (Hello? Anyone out there wanna claim they didn’t do something in college that could be called “unfit” today? He rapped. Pshaw.) Delgado is a Rhodes Scholar and a Harvard Law graduate.
Meet Letitia James. She was elected to be New York’s first African-American Attorney General. Other barriers she broke: being the first black woman elected to a New York statewide office, the first woman (of any race) to be attorney general, and the first black person to fill that position.
Meet Jared Polis. He’s the first openly gay candidate to be elected governor in America. Colorado has the honor of this particular milestone and will lead the way with the first “first man”.
Meet Lucy McBath. She will represent Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. McBath’s son Jordan Davis was shot and killed by a bigoted white man in 2012 after an argument over loud music in his car. She’s been a gun control activist ever since, and the Parkland massacre motivated her to run for office. “For me, I was looking beyond my own tragedy, looking for the other tragedies that were most definitely going to happen if I didn’t keep talking about this crisis.”
Meet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. At 29-years-old she is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office,” she said in a recent campaign ad. “I wasn’t born to a wealthy or powerful family.” Representation matters.