Hillary Clinton may not have broken the ultimate glass ceiling on Nov. 8, but there were some major upsets in state and local races, putting women, people of color and immigrants in elected positions that have never seen such faces before.
For the first time in history, 2017 will see two Asian women and one Indian woman in the U.S. Senate. Senator Mazie Hirono (D – Hawaii), who became the first in 2012, won her reelection bid and will be joined by Iraq War veteran Representative Tammy Duckworth (D – Ill) and California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D). Duckworth’s mother is from Thailand; Harris’s mother is from India and her father from Jamaica.
In a win for immigrants, Adriano Espaillat — a former undocumented worker — won a seat in the 13th Congressional District of New York. “I will become the first Dominican-American to ever serve in the U.S. Congress,” he told a crowd Tuesday night. “Perhaps even just as important, I will be the first member of Congress who was once undocumented as an immigrant. You take that, Donald Trump!”
The country’s first Latina senator was elected in Nevada. Catherine Cortez Mastro, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant and a former attorney general of the state, beat incumbent Joe Heck.
Oregon elected the country’s first openly LGBT governor: Kate Brown. While she is not the first LGBT governor to serve, she is the first elected. Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey came out in the middle of his term in 2004. Brown, who identifies as bisexual, stepped into her role as governor in February 2012 after John Kitzhaber resigned in scandal, but this was her first actual election.
And a former refugee was elected to the Minnesota state legislature. Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia and lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for four years before immigrating to the U.S. when she was 12 years old. “It is the land of liberty and justice for all, but we have to work for it,” she told The Huffington Post. “Our democracy is great, but it’s fragile. It’s come through a lot of progress, and we need to continue that progress to make it actually ‘justice for all.'”
As we think about how we’ll move on from this election, as we talk to our kids about what transpired, we should focus on these people who forged their way ahead in the face of fierce opposition and who represent perhaps our greatest hope for inclusion and representation for all Americans at every level of government.
More: Nasty women of the world, unite