The Democratic Party won a number of races across the country in Tuesday’s elections, securing key state legislative seats and governorships. Many of those victories also made history.
Virginia elected its first openly transgender state lawmaker on Tuesday, voting Democrat Danica Roem into the state’s House of Delegates. She unseated Virginia Del. Bob Marshall, the Republican who introduced the “bathroom bill” that would have prohibited transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice.
“No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, who you love, how you identify or any other inherent identifier that you have, you should be celebrated because of who you are, not despite it,” Roem said on MSNBC’s “The Last Word.”
Transgender activist Andrea Jenkins was elected to the Minneapolis City Council, becoming the first openly transgender African-American woman elected to the city council of a major U.S. city.
Jenkins was endorsed by the Star Tribune, citing her years of experience working as a policy aide alongside city council members and her commitment to helping underrepresented communities.
Democrat Justin Fairfax was elected to become Virginia’s next lieutenant governor. With his victory, the former federal prosecutor will be the second African-American to win statewide in Virginia.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity,” Fairfax said during a statewide victory party, according to WJLA-TV. “We are changing the course of history in this commonwealth.”
New Jersey elected Sheila Oliver as its first female African-American lieutenant governor. Oliver is no stranger to breaking records: She became the first African-American woman to be elected as Assembly speaker in New Jersey and only the second black female speaker in U.S. history.
“This may not be the first glass ceiling I have broken, but it is certainly the highest,” Oliver said during Democrat Phil Murphy’s victory party. “And I hope somewhere in this great state of New Jersey, a young girl of color is watching tonight and realizing that she does not have a limit to how high she can go.”
Vi Lyles was elected as Charlotte, North Carolina’s first female African-American mayor, defeating Republican candidate Kenny Smith.
“With this opportunity you’ve given me, you’ve proven that we are a city of opportunity and inclusiveness,” Lyles told a crowd of supporters, according to the Charlotte Observer. “You’ve proven that a woman whose father didn’t graduate from high school can become this city’s first female African-American mayor.”
Yvonne Spicer was elected the first mayor of the city of Framingham, Massachusetts. Framingham residents recently voted to become a city, relinquishing its status as “the largest town in America.” This vote altered the way the government will be run: with a mayor and a city council.
“This is a new beginning for Framingham. ... I promise you as your mayor, I will make sure that everyone at Framingham has a seat at the table,” Spicer told a group of supporters Tuesday night.
The largest city in New Hampshire just elected its first woman as mayor. Joyce Craig will be the first woman in the Manchester’s 266-year history to serve as mayor, unseating the Republican incumbent, Ted Gatsas.
“As the first woman to ever serve as mayor of Manchester, Joyce will lead the city she loves with the same vision and energy that she’s brought to her previous decade of public service,” Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez told the New Hampshire Union Leader in a statement.
Tyler Titus won a seat on the Erie School Board, becoming the first openly transgender person to ever be elected in the state of Pennsylvania.
“Tyler Titus shattered a lavender ceiling in Pennsylvania today ― and his victory will resonate well beyond state boundaries,” Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills told HuffPost in a statement. “Trans people remain severely underrepresented in our politics and government, and now more than ever we need trans voices like Tyler’s in the halls of power.”
Hoboken, New Jersey, elected Ravinder Bhalla as its mayor Tuesday night, which will make Bhalla the first Sikh American to be elected mayor of the city. Last week, Bhalla was the target of racist flyers that showed a picture of him along with the words “Don’t let terrorism take over our town!” plastered above him.
“Thank you, Hoboken,” Bhalla, who served as a city councilman for eight years, posted on Twitter. “I look forward to being your Mayor!”
Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala
Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala defeated Republican incumbents to become the first two Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
“I am so honored for the privilege to represent House District 51,” Ayala wrote in a statement. “I am humbled by the faith that my future constituents have placed in my candidacy and our message.”
Wilmot Collins arrived in Helena, Montana, 23 years ago as a refugee from Liberia.
Collins, a 54-year-old Naval reservist and child protection specialist with the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, will become the second black mayor in both Montana and Helena’s history. (The city elected its first black mayor, Edward Johnson, in 1873, the Montana Historical Society told the New York Times.)
Although Helena’s elections are nonpartisan, Collins leans Democratic and is pleased to have sent a message of defiance to President Donald Trump.
“The country is still not what Mr. Trump wants it to be,” Collins told HuffPost. “The citizens of this state and this city where I have lived for the past 23 years have spoken and they are saying we want the best candidate. They’re not looking at color, at background and creed.”
Jenny Durkan will become Seattle’s first lesbian mayor. She will also be the Emerald City’s first woman mayor since 1928. Bertha Knight Landes was the first female mayor of Seattle, and of a major U.S. city, in 1926.
“Ninety-two years later, Seattle’s about to have another woman mayor. How about that?” Durkan told supporters during her victory speech.
Voters in St. Paul, Minnesota, made history by electing Melvin Carter as the city’s first African-American mayor.
“I’m thrilled. I’m elated. I’m humbled,” Carter, a former St. Paul city council member, told a group of supporters at a victory party. “We’ve built what I’m excited to say is a big, bold, bad vision for the future of St. Paul.”
Kathy Tran, a former Vietnamese refugee, became the first Asian-American woman to join Virginia’s House of Delegates, representing the state’s 42nd District. She will replace David Albo, a Republican who served for 24 years but didn’t run for re-election.
Janet Diaz will become the first Latina member of city council in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
“We need a government that looks like the people it serves ... that looks like its constituents,” she said when she announced her candidacy in January.
Jonathan McCollar will become the first African-American mayor of Statesboro, Georgia, defeating incumbent Jan Moore.
“It’s that the city was ready for change, he said Tuesday. “This is just evidence of the work from the people that were part of this movement.”
Brendon Barber, a Georgetown, South Carolina, city councilman since 1998, will become the city’s first ever African-American mayor. The Georgetown native said his knowledge of the city and its municipal employees makes him well-positioned for the job.
Mary Parham Copelan
Mary Parham Copelan will become Milledgeville, Georgia’s, first female African-American mayor, beating incumbent Gary Thrower by just six votes.
“I along with each one of you know that we needed real change and real progress for our city,” she wrote on Facebook following her victory.
Booker Gainor, 27, will become Cairo, Georgia’s, first African-American mayor.
“It feels amazing,” Gainor said. “I don’t even know how to describe it.”
Cathy Murillo’s victory on Tuesday makes her the first Latina mayor of Santa Barbara, California. She has been a city councilwoman since 2011.
“We’re going to do such good work,” she said.
Democrat Laura Curran will be the first female county executive for New York’s Nassau County. She said she aims to fight corruption.
Lisa Middleton is the first openly transgender person to be elected to a non-judicial office in California. She’s joining Palm Springs’ city council.
Mazahir Salih will be the first Sudanese-American to join the Iowa City Council following her win on Tuesday.
Medicaid expansion in Maine
Maine residents approved a ballot initiative Tuesday to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare to about 70,000 more people across the state. It’s the first time Americans voted on the issue through a referendum. It also represents a setback to Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who vetoed several previous legislative attempts at an expansion.
The Maine Democratic Party called the referendum “a tremendous victory.”
“The people of Maine have once again sent a clear message of support for affordable, accessible health care,” MDP Chair Phil Barlett said in a statement.
Maine joins 31 states, plus the District of Columbia, in passing Medicaid expansions. Efforts are also underway in Idaho and Utah to put similar measures on 2018 ballots.
Daniel Marans contributed reporting