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2018 Was a Historic Year for Women in Politics

By: Candace Milner, Program AssistantPosted on November 7, 2018 Issues: Racial & Ethnic Justice

Debra Haaland won her race, becoming–along with Sharice Davids–one of the first Native American women elected to Congress. (Roberto. E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Following the 2016 election, thousands of women declared they were running for office, making the 2018 mid-term elections a historical year for women. And on Tuesday night, women across the country broke glass ceilings and won historic races in their communities. With every win, women are creating pipelines for adequate representation at every level of government.

Here’s a breakdown of the gains of women in the 2018 general election.

Senate:

In 2018, a record number of women filed for and won nominations for Senate races across the nation. Arizona and Tennessee both elected women to represent them in the Senate for the first times. At least 13 women won Senate seats, keeping the number of women in senate at 23.

House:

The House of Representatives will have a record number of women Representatives. More than 100 women were projected to win their races, and as of Wednesday morning, 95 had already been declared winners.

This election also proved to be a historic night for many women of color and LGBTQ women running for office. Ayanna Pressley (MA), Jahana Hayes (CT), and Lauren Underwood (IL) became the first Black women to represent their perspective states in Congress. Debra Haaland (NM) became one of the the first Native Americans to serve in Congress and Sharice Davis (KS) became the first LGBTQ Native American to serve in Congress. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became the first Texan Latinas elected to Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Abby Finkenauer (IA), both 29, are the youngest people to ever serve in Congress. These results are direct responses to women’s demands for better representation.

Governor

This year, 16 women across the nation won their primaries in gubernatorial races, making 2018 the year with the most women running for governor at once. Nine of those 16 women won gubernatorial races across the country tying 2004 and 2007 for the record of women serving as governor in the same year. Janet Mills (ME) and Kristi Noem (SD) are the first women elected as governor in their perspective states and Michigan selected women for every statewide office for the first time in state history.

Statewide Executive Offices and State Legislatures

Over 130 women ran for statewide executive offices and more than 3300 women were on local ballot for state legislature position setting records for women running in 2018. Juliana Stratton of Illinois became the first Black woman elected to Lt. Governor in the state. It is expected that after all the result are in from this election, women will make up 40% of state legislatures across the nation, another record-breaking number!

After this historic election, the next step is to undo or stem some of the attacks on women and families that have happened over the past two years. Whether it be tax scams, attempts to cut access to reproductive health, or separating families—women are tired of being the causalities of bad policy and sham processes. And as the newly elected leaders are sworn into office, they must also focus on supporting the needs and demands of women at every margin and intersection. When we resolve to center the experiences and expertise of women of color, LGBTQ women, and women with disabilities, we resolve to build a better country for everyone.

It's time for change, and we must act now. Time's up.