These 13 midterms winners just made history
Among them: The nation’s first out lesbian governors, the first Gen Zer in Congress, and Pennsylvania’s first Black woman representative.
We may still be awaiting the final results from a few 2022 midterm election races, but what we’ve witnessed so far is already cause for big celebration. More than 40 million Americans voted early, and the overall voter turnout is the second highest in the history of midterms. Those votes brought a new wave of progressive officials to both federal and state governments, many of whom also hold the honorable distinction of being “the first”: This includes the nation’s first out lesbian governor, the first trans man elected to any state legislature, and the first Gen Z member of Congress.
If there’s any takeaway here, it’s that taking action, showing up, and staying hopeful is far from overrated. After all, it’s this not-so-secret sauce that ultimately led to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s (another first) 2020 win, and garnered some impressive results this year. Ahead, 12 newly-elected officials who already made history:
Delia Ramirez, Illinois
First Latina congresswoman representing the Midwest
Ramirez, who has roots in Guatemala, is the first Latina congresswoman representing the Midwest, as well as the first person ever to represent Illinois’s new 3rd Congressional District. “The night I won the party nomination was an affirmation of what we’re building,” she previously told Mic. “This district wants a unifier, a proven leader, and someone that’s going to work and fight like hell for them.”
Maura Healey, Massachusetts
First out lesbian governor in the U.S.
Not only is Healey Massachusetts’s first female governor, but she’s also the first out lesbian governor in U.S. history. “I had so many people from the community — and also parents — come up to me and talk about what it meant that they could see somebody in government who looks like them,” Healey, who was also the first out LGBTQ+ person to be elected attorney general of any state in 2015, told them in a July 2022 interview.
Maxwell Frost, Florida
First Gen Z member of Congress
At 25, Frost became the first Gen Zer elected to serve in the U.S. congress, specifically representing Florida’s 10th Congressional District. "History was made tonight," Frost, whose platform centered around gun violence prevention, wrote on Instagram after the race was called. "We made history for Floridians, for Gen Z, and for everyone who believes we deserve a better future."
Summer Lee, Pennsylvania
First Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress
Lee, a community organizer from Pittsburgh, is Pennsylvania’s first Black woman representative in the U.S. House, after winning the state’s 12th Congressional District. “We fought, we built coalitions. We brought together people who had never worked together on campaigns,” Lee told supporters at her Election Night party in Downtown Pittsburgh, per TribLive. “We had … a multiracial, multigenerational movement from all over this district.”
James Roesener, New Hampshire
First out trans man elected to a state legislature
Upon securing the seat in New Hampshire’s 22nd State House District, Ward 8, Roesener concurrently became the first out trans man to be elected to any state legislature in U.S. history. “I deeply care about creating a better world for us all,” Roesener said in a Victory Fund post. “I have set my standards high and will continue to fight for change until enduring solutions can be reached.”
Becca Balint, Vermont
First woman and openly gay person to represent Vermont in Congress
Balint is the first woman and openly gay person elected to Congress to represent Vermont after winning the state’s only House seat. "Thank you for your confidence in me. Thank you for giving me this incredible honor and opportunity to serve this state I love so much," she wrote on Instagram. "Today, we reaffirmed that Vermont, and this nation, is still a place where anything is possible."
Zaynab Mohamed, Minnesota
First Black woman, first Somali woman, and youngest woman elected to Minnesota Senate
Mohamed broke multiple records when she won her race; she’s now the first Black woman, the first Somali woman, and the youngest woman ever to be elected to the Minnesota Senate. “I’m honored that the people of South Minneapolis have placed their trust in me to serve as their next state senator,” Zaynab said on election night per, Sahan Journal. “I’m incredibly grateful to my friends, family, campaign staff, and volunteers who made this historic night possible and for the unwavering belief they had in me throughout this campaign. There’s important work ahead and I can’t wait to get to work improving the lives of working Minnesotans.”
Anthony Brown, Maryland
First Black attorney general in Maryland
Brown, previously a U.S. congressman, became the first Black attorney general in Maryland’s history. "Thank you Maryland for putting your faith in me as your next Attorney General – I promise to serve with integrity, be an advocate for justice, and push forward the progress we know is possible,” Brown wrote in a statement posted to Facebook.
Robert Garcia, California
First out gay immigrant in Congress
Garcia, who’s originally from Peru, won the U.S. House seat in California’s 42nd Congressional District, making the current mayor of Long Beach the first out gay immigrant to head to Congress. Garcia dedicated his win to his mother, who passed away from Covid-19. "That hard-working woman who worked in clinics, who cleaned houses, who was a true immigrant in every sense of the word, is why I'm here today," Garcia told supporters in a speech. "Why my brother is here today. Her fight and love for this country is what made us today."
Stephanie Thomas, Connecticut
First Black woman secretary of state in Connecticut
Thomas is the first Black woman in the state of Connecticut to be elected secretary of state. Her top priority in her newly minted position? “Ensuring every Connecticut city and town has the funding and resources it needs to implement fair and safe elections,” she tweeted on Sunday.
Wes Moore, Maryland
First Black governor of Maryland
Moore — who was endorsed by President Obama, President Biden, and Oprah Winfrey — made history Tuesday night by becoming the first Black governor elected in the state of Maryland and the third Black governor in the U.S. “I’ve defied the odds to become a Rhodes Scholar, Army officer, author, and nonprofit CEO,” Moore wrote on Instagram when launching his campaign in June 2021. “Now, I'm excited and humbled to announce my run for Maryland Governor. Because I believe no matter our start — we all deserve an equal opportunity to succeed.
Alex Padilla, California
First Latino elected to U.S. Senate
Padilla, who was sworn in to fill Vice President Kamala Harris’s California senate seat in 2021, is now officially the first Latino elected by voters to the U.S. Senate. “Thank you, California. I am honored and humbled by the trust that you have placed in me today,” Padilla wrote on Instagram after winning his race. “This victory belongs to every Californian who believes in the American Dream, and who is ready to fight to keep that dream alive.”