Since the November 2017 elections, first-time candidates have been breaking through glass ceilings and making history all across the country. Dozens of candidates have become the first of their kind in their candidacies for and elections to their respective city, state or national offices. As another round of primary elections came to a close in August, and with November midterms coming into focus, this election year is shaping up to catapult a historic number of “firsts” into the mainstream.
A Plus has been covering and tracking the many candidates breaking the mold, and in this slideshow, we’re highlighting just some of the dozens of candidates in the last year who were the first of their kind, and the ones who may make history in the coming months.
Office of New Jersey’s lieutenant governor
Sheila Y. Oliver
Oliver became New Jersey’s first female African-American lieutenant governor this year. “Holding this office means that any young girl in our state can look up and realize there is no limit to what she can achieve,” Oliver told A Plus. “But titles and designations take a back seat to the important work of public service that I have made my life’s mission.”
Veronica Escobar campaign
Escobar won the Democratic nomination for the 16th Congressional District in Texas in March. If she wins in November, she’ll become the first Latino woman in Texas to serve in Congress.
Mayor of Hoboken’s office
Ravinder Bhalla was elected to mayor of Hoboken New Jersey, becoming the first Sikh Mayor in the state’s history. “It means that in this part of the country, the American Dream is alive and well. If you work hard and believe in yourself, the sky is the limit and the content of your character is what will ultimately drive your fate,” Bhalla told A Plus. “It’s an honor to represent my community, and I hope we reach a point soon where a Sikh elected official is the norm and not news-worthy.”
Ocasio-Cortez will likely become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in November, when she’s expected to easily win the general election for New York’s 14th District after winning her Democratic primary race.
Gina Ortiz Jones campaign
Gina Ortiz Jones
If elected in November, Jones would become the first lesbian, first Iraq War veteran and first Asian-American to hold a U.S. House seat in Texas. “While I would be honored to be the first, it’s more important that I’m not the last,” Jones told A Plus. “I’m running to protect the opportunities that allowed me to grow up healthy, get an education and serve our country.”
Stephanie Kenner / Shutterstock.com
Tlaib won the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 13th District, making her the favorite to become the first Muslim woman in Congress. Tlaib is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants and would become just the third Muslim representative in U.S. history behind Keith Ellison and André Carson.
Debra Haaland campaign
If elected to represent her district in New Mexico, Haaland will become the first Native American woman ever elected to Congress. “Since the founding of the United States, there have been over 10,000 members of Congress, but not a single Native American woman,” she told A Plus. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to shatter this ceiling.”
STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images
Omar won the Democratic primary for Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District in August, and is expected to become the first Somali-American woman to serve in Congress when she takes of Rep. Keith Ellison’s seat. If elected, she would also be one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.
January Contreras campaign
Contreras is running for Arizona attorney general and could be the first Latina elected to the office. “Lately we’ve elected too many leaders whose view of the world is us versus them, and their version of ‘us’ keeps getting smaller,” Contreras told A Plus. “Serving as the first Latina Attorney General in Arizona would be an incredible moment for us as Arizonans to hit the reset button, and go back to celebrating all that we have in common instead of what’s different.”
Joe Neguse campaign
Joe Neguse is the first Democratic African-American nominee for national office in Colorado this year. He’s running to represent Colorado’s 2nd Congressional district.
When she won a seat on Minneapolis’ City Council, Jenkins became the first openly transgender African-American woman to hold a public office. “I want to be clear that I represent the entire community,” Jenkins told A Plus. “So my election, along with other Trans-identified individuals, including my colleague on the Minneapolis City Council Phillipe Cunningham, means that society is moving forward and recognizing that leadership, commitment to service and good governance comes from all segments of our society.”
Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
Abrams, after winning her Democratic primary, is running to become the first Black governor in the history of Georgia. The 44-year-old is joined by Andrew Gillum (Florida) and Bean Jealous (Maryland) as candidates who could become the first black governors in their state this year.
Christine Hallquist campaign
Hallquist, a former energy executive, will be the first openly transgender governor in America if she wins her race against Gov. Phil Scott in Vermont’s November election. “It’s an honor to be in this position and while I acknowledge the significance of being the first it is my hope to soon be one of many,” Hallquist said. “Vermonters have impressed me with their focus on the issues. In my thousands of conversations with Vermonters being transgender almost never comes up.”
Young Kim campaign
If elected, Kim would be the first female-Korean American elected to Congress. She’s running in California’s 39th District. “I am proud that I could make history in this election by being the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress,” Kim told A Plus. “It would be my honor to represent the diverse communities of the 39th District in Congress.”
Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Pressley shocked Massachusetts on Sept. 4 when she upset 10-term Representative Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary. With no Republican on the ballot in the general election, the victory all ensures that she’ll be elected to Congress in November, which would make her the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.
Collins (left, with his family) was elected to become the first black mayor in Montana’s history. He is also a refugee from Liberia who became a U.S. Naval Reserves member. “I believe it means I was being judged by the content of my character and not skin color,” he told A Plus.
VIDEOS YOU’LL LOVE