Here Are Some Historic Firsts From The 2022 Midterms That Will Make You Say “It’s About Damn Time”

The 2022 midterm elections saw groundbreaking firsts for representation among women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and Muslims.

1. Wes Moore, first Black governor in Maryland

Wes Moore, an author and former nonprofit executive, was elected as Maryland’s first-ever Black governor. A Democrat, he flipped the state’s governorship blue, beating out a Trump-backed far-right Republican who attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally.

In his victory speech, the 44-year-old thanked voters for “believ[ing] in the son of an immigrant, a graduate of a two-year college, a US Army combat veteran, and a nonprofit leader who had never run for office before.”

“It is not lost on me that I've made some history here tonight too — but I also know I'm not the first one to try … [But] the history that matters most to us is the history that we — and the people of this state — are going to make over the next four years.”

2. Becca Balint, first woman in Congress in Vermont

Becca Balint, a Democrat and member of the Vermont state Senate, won her congressional race, making her Vermont’s first woman to serve in the US House of Representatives.

Vermont was the last remaining state to have never elected a woman to the position. Balint, who is openly gay, will also be the first LGBTQ Vermonter in Congress. Standing beside her wife at an election night party late Tuesday, the 54-year-old thanked her staff and loved ones, VTDigger reported, saying, “If we had believed that change was impossible, I would not be standing here tonight.”

“Take note and take heart: Vermont is a place where kindness and integrity and courage matter. Vermont is a place where the daughter of an immigrant dad and a working-class mom can be the first woman and the first gay person to represent Vermont in the US House of Representatives.”

3. Maura Healey, first openly lesbian governor in the US, first woman governor in Massachusetts

Maura Healey won her bid for governor of Massachusetts, making her the nation’s first openly lesbian governor. She is also the first woman to be elected to the position in state history.

Healey, 51, currently serves as Massachusetts attorney general. In 2009, she was the first person nationwide to lead a successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that denied same-sex couples the right to get married until 2013.

“To every little girl and every young LGBTQ person out there, I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever, you want to be,” Healey said in her victory speech. “Nothing and no one can ever get in your way except your own imagination, and that’s not going to happen.

“We made history,” she said to raucous cheers.

4. Summer Lee, Pennsylvania's first Black woman in Congress

Pennsylvania elected its first-ever Black woman to the US House of Representatives, with Democratic state Rep. Summer Lee winning her race for Congress.

The 34-year-old lawyer ran on a progressive platform, supporting the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and many other left-wing policies.

"This was a movement that was about what it looks like when we prioritize the most marginalized, when we prioritize and really fight for what a real working-class movement can look like in this country," Lee told her celebrating supporters, according to WTAE-TV Pittsburgh.

5. Delia Ramirez, first Latina woman in Congress in Illinois

Delia Ramirez will be the first Latina to represent Illinois in Congress. The state representative, 39, is the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants and is married to a DACA recipient.

Ramirez championed progressive causes in her campaign, including promising to fight for the rights of immigrants and working-class people. She supports building more affordable housing, increasing the federal minimum wage to $15, and enacting universal healthcare, among other issues.

"We just made history tonight,” Ramirez said in a speech at her victory party. “We broke a glass ceiling."

6. James Roesener, first trans man elected to a state legislature

James Roesener, a 26-year-old Democrat, was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives, becoming the first trans man to serve in a state legislature in US history. Roesener ran against a staunch Republican who supported anti-LGBTQ policies similar to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” laws, according to Citizens Count, a nonpartisan New Hampshire nonprofit that tracks candidates’ positions.

Prior to the 2022 midterms, there were eight trans people serving in state legislatures nationwide, but all of them were trans women, according to data compiled by the LGBTQ political action committee Victory Institute.

Roesener is bisexual and lives with his wife and cat, according to a bio on the Victory Institute website. “I was born an advocate for the underdog and have never been afraid to stand up for what I truly believe in,” he wrote.

7. Markwayne Mullin, Oklahoma’s first Native American senator in almost a century

Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, was elected to the US Senate. Mullin will be the first Native American senator in Oklahoma in nearly a century, according to US Senate data, and will also be the first Native American in the Senate since 2005.

Mullin, a Republican, describes himself on his campaign website as “a strong supporter of President Trump’s agenda to defeat the socialists” and took part in right-wing efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. In 2021, he voted against certifying the Electoral College results, baselessly claiming his objection was “due to all of the fraud and uncertainty.”

“Tonight, the American people rejected Joe Biden's extreme Socialist movement, and embraced a new conservative agenda to get America back on track,” Mullin tweeted. “I am humbled to have the opportunity to serve the greatest state in the union in the U.S. Senate. God bless Oklahoma.”

8. Abdelnasser Rashid, first Muslim elected to the Illinois Statehouse

Abdelnasser Rashid has two different firsts under his belt — he'll be both the first Muslim and the first Palestinian elected to the Illinois Statehouse. The 33-year-old is a progressive activist and the son of immigrants from Palestine.

His narrow defeat of state Rep. Michael Zalewski in the June primary shocked local government officials, many of whom campaigned for the seven-term incumbent. “It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for,” Rashid, who previously lost two runs for local office in Cook County, said in his primary victory speech.

According to Politico, Rashid was advised to "Americanize" his name and downplay his background before running for public office. He rejected the advice, saying, “We believed that once people got to know me, that they can move past any preconceptions."

9. Kathy Hochul, first woman elected governor of New York

Kathy Hochul, 64, is officially the first elected woman governor of New York, keeping the state's executive office in Democratic control despite a tight race with Republican state Rep. Lee Zeldin.

Hochul took over for three-term governor Andrew Cuomo in August 2021 when he resigned following allegations of sexual assault and pandemic death cover-ups. Though the state's governor has been a Democrat for nearly two decades now, the Trump-backed Zeldin appealed to New Yorkers' fear of rising crime. Still, Hochul came out on top.

"I'm not here to make history. I'm here to make a difference," Hochul said during her victory speech Tuesday night. "Because of all of you, we'll keep making progress, breaking down barriers, breaking glass ceilings, and helping New York achieve the greatness that it is capable of."

10. Zooey Zephyr and SJ Howell, Montana’s first openly trans state representatives

Democrat Zooey Zephyr just became the first openly trans woman to be elected a state representative in Montana, and Democrat SJ Howell was the first openly nonbinary person to do the same. Montana is now officially the second state to have elected two transgender people to the state legislature, following New Hampshire.

Zephyr, a 33-year-old activist and University of Montana employee, advocated on a state level for the rights of transgender people in 2021 after "watching how the right was attacking queer folks," she told Hollywood Life in an interview. Over the past few years, the state Legislature took up bills limiting the participation of trans youth in sports, restricting the rights of transgender people to update their birth certificates, and putting more restrictions on gender-affirming care for transgender kids. The first two bills passed and are now being challenged in court.

Zephyr told Hollywood Life there was "a lot of support for human rights" in her relatively progressive town of Missoula, in contrast to the state's oppressive legislative agenda. On her campaign website, she said she will address four areas where "Montana is failing to help its residents" — housing inequality, healthcare, infrastructure, and climate change.

Howell, the executive director of nonprofit advocacy group Montana Women Vote, has also advocated on a state level for LGBTQ rights.

“I feel that there is a difference between legislators having a conversation about you compared to having a conversation with you, and I think it changes the tone of the debate," they told the Daily Montanan in June. "I think we both have the intention of getting in and fighting hard for the rights of queer and trans Montanans.”

11. Maxwell Frost, first Gen Z member of Congress

As the former national organizing director at March for Our Lives who has worked on three presidential campaigns, Maxwell Frost is no stranger to politics. Now, at 25, he's finally old enough to become a member of Congress, and he's the first of his generation to do so — and the first Afro Cubano elected to Congress in US history.

The progressive activist beat Republican Calvin Wimbish, a 51-year-old Army veteran, for one of Florida's seats in the House of Representatives. And he hasn't even finished college yet.

"WE WON!!!!" Frost tweeted after his victory was announced. "History was made tonight. We made history for Floridians, for Gen Z, and for everyone who believes we deserve a better future. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to represent my home in the United States Congress."

12. Leigh Finke, first openly trans elected legislator in Minnesota

Democrat Leigh Finke handily defeated her Republican opponent to become Minnesota's first openly trans elected legislator.

“I don’t really think that much about the historicity of being the first person to do it as much as I think about the importance on the individual level of trans young people and trans people having somebody who represents them in the government,” Finke told the Minnesota Reformer in a June interview. “That, to me, is really where I get emotional.”

The 41-year-old documentary filmmaker and longtime activist is one of the 11 openly LGBTQ candidates who ran for the Minnesota Legislature and won their elections Tuesday, according to Victory Fund.

"Many stories will be written about Minnesota’s elections. One undeniable story is the rise of Queer Political Power. 11 LGBTQ Candidates for the legislature: 11 victories," Finke tweeted. "In those 11 victories are many firsts. Let's. Make. Trouble. Onward!"

13. Austin Davis, first Black lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania

Filling the position previously occupied by US Sen.-elect John Fetterman, Austin Davis will be the first Black lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. At 33, he'll also be the youngest person in the state to ever hold the office.

The current state representative, alongside Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro, who selected Davis as his running mate, defeated the Trump-endorsed Republicans Doug Mastriano and Carrie DelRosso to keep the state's executive branch in the hands of Democrats. Mastriano is a far-right extremist who suggested that women who violated a proposed six-week abortion ban should be charged with murder.

"Elect me Lieutenant Governor and I’ll proudly go to Harrisburg with @JoshShapiroPA to defend reproductive freedom, protect our democracy, and move our communities forward on day one," Davis tweeted on Tuesday afternoon before polls closed.

14. Katie Britt, Alabama’s first elected woman US senator

Alabama has elected its first woman US senator in Katie Britt. The state has had two women senators before, both Democrats who were appointed to fill the role.

The Trump-endorsed Republican previously served as chief of staff for Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, whom she is set to replace when he retires at the end of this term. It'll be her first time holding an elected office, and at 40, she’ll be one of the younger members of the Senate.

“No one will work harder than me in the United States Senate,” Britt told supporters at her victory party, according to PBS. “I am going to listen to you, not lecture you. I know that every one of you is not going to agree with me on every single issue, and that’s OK. I’m going to be working for all Alabamians.”

15. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, first elected woman governor in Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as press secretary and communications director for Donald Trump from 2017 to 2019, will be the first woman governor of Arkansas.

Her father, Republican Mike Huckabee, was governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. Sanders will also be the first daughter in US history elected governor of the same state as her father.

“This election is about taking Arkansas to the top,” Sanders said in her acceptance speech Tuesday. “I know that Arkansas can be first, and I’m committed to being the leader who takes us there.”

The 40-year-old briefly took time away from the campaign trail in September after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She returned weeks later, saying that after a successful surgery, she is now “cancer-free.”

16. Aruna Miller, first Indian American and first immigrant elected lieutenant governor of Maryland

Wes Moore isn’t the only person making history in Maryland’s executive branch this election — Democrat Aruna Miller, 58, became the first immigrant to be elected lieutenant governor in the state. She's also the first Indian American woman to be elected lieutenant governor in the country.

Alongside Moore, former Maryland state Rep. Miller took over the office previously held by Republicans.

"Ever since I came to this country in 1972, I've never stopped being excited for the promise of America. I will never stop fighting to make sure that promise is available to everyone," Miller wrote in a victory tweet. "And this promise begins with a commitment to deliver a Maryland where we Leave No One Behind."

17. Alex Padilla, first Latino elected to represent California in the US Senate

Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla, who was appointed to fill Kamala Harris's seat when she became vice president, just won a full term of his own. He'll be the first Latino elected to Congress to represent California.

The 49-year-old technically appeared twice on the ballot — once to complete his appointed term that ends in January, and again to serve for six years after that in the Senate. He previously served as the secretary of state of California from 2015 to 2021.

“We have a hell of a fight ahead of us, and I’m heading back to the Senate ready to help lead that fight,” Padilla said at a Democratic election party Tuesday night, according to the LA Times.

18. Nabilah Islam and Ruwa Romman, first Muslim women elected as state representatives in Georgia

Democrats Nabilah Islam and Ruwa Romman just became the first Muslim women elected to the Georgia state Legislature.

Islam, who was elected to the state Senate, picked up a redistricted seat previously held by Republicans. The 32-year-old small business owner and community organizer is the daughter of immigrants from Bangladesh. She ran for US Congress in 2020; though she was defeated ahead of the primary, she was dubbed the "AOC" of the Atlanta area.

"Our community is one the most diverse in GA, it’s important that leaders understand our lived experiences b/c representation matters. I will fight for you everyday in the State Senate, we can’t wait for change," she wrote in a tweet announcing her candidacy for the state Legislature in January.

Romman, 29, was elected to the Georgia Statehouse. The consultant, who was born in Jordan, is the first Palestinian elected to hold any public office in the state. On Tuesday night, she tweeted: "We did it y’all. We made history in Georgia!"

19. Robert Garcia, first openly LGBTQ immigrant in Congress

Robert Garcia won a US House seat in California, becoming the first openly LGBTQ immigrant elected to Congress.

"Mom, we did it," he tweeted to announce his victory on Tuesday. He dedicated his campaign to his late mother, who died of complications from COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic.

“My mom brought me to this country when I was 5. She risked everything so that I could succeed,” Garcia, now 44, wrote in a tweet when he announced his congressional campaign. “Every single kid deserves the same shot that this country has given me.”

Garcia served as mayor of Long Beach, California, for eight years. He'll fill the seat of Democratic Rep. Alan Lowenthal, who is retiring. He'll be the second openly LGBTQ Latino to serve in Congress.

20. Karen Bass, first woman elected as mayor of Los Angeles

Karen Bass, a Democratic member of Congress and former California lawmaker, was elected as the first woman mayor of Los Angeles.

Bass is also just the second Black mayor in the city's history. Her victory, which was called by Decision Desk HQ on Nov. 16, comes after a close — and, at times, ugly —race against billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso, who spent more than $100 million of his own money on his mayoral bid.

The 69-year-old will take control of the state's largest city as it struggles with a worsening homelessness crisis, inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and a series of scandals at City Hall. Bass has vowed to declare a state of emergency over homelessness and house 17,000 unsheltered people in her first year in office.

"To the people of Los Angeles, my message is this: We are going to solve homelessness. We are going to prevent and respond urgently to crime," Bass said in a statement after the election was called. "Los Angeles is no longer going to be unaffordable for working families — good jobs and affordable housing construction are on the way."

Stephanie K. Baer contributed reporting to this story.

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