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These candidates made history in the 2020 US elections

From openly gay black men to a transgender candidate, these newly elected representatives broke barriers in a contest dominated by two white men

By Matt Stevens and Maggie Astor
Published: Nov 5, 2020

Image: Dave Sanders/ The New York Times

The 2020 election saw a diverse set of candidates in races across the country, even though the presidential contest was between two septuagenarian white men. Votes are still being tallied, but barrier-breaking candidates have notched victories in some of the races that have been called.

Here are some of the winners who have made history.

In the House of Representatives:

Cori Bush, a progressive who toppled a member of the Democratic Party establishment during her primary, cruised to victory over Anthony Rogers, a Republican, and became the first Black woman elected to represent Missouri in Congress. “To the Black women, the Black girls, the nurses, the essential workers, the single mothers — this is our moment,” Bush said in her victory speech.

Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones, both Democrats, swept aside their Republican opponents and became the first openly gay Black men to be elected to Congress. Torres, the first openly gay Afro-Latino elected to Congress, will replace Rep. José Serrano in New York’s 15th Congressional District. Jones will fill the seat in New York’s 17th Congressional District that is being vacated by Rep. Nita Lowey.

Marilyn Stricklandthe former Mayor of Tacoma, Washington, defeated another Democrat and will be the first Korean American woman ever elected to Congress and the first Black woman to represent Washington state at the federal level.

Election night victories by Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., in the state’s 1st District; Yvette Herrell, a Republican, in its 2nd District; and Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Democrat, in its 3rd District mean that New Mexico’s entire House delegation will be made up of women of color. Herrell is also the first Republican Native American woman elected to Congress.

In the Senate:

Cynthia Lummis, a Republican former congresswoman, will become the first woman to serve in the Senate from Wyoming. She cruised to victory in the race to succeed Sen. Michael Enzi, who is retiring.

In statehouses:

Sarah McBride, elected to the Delaware Senate, will become the first openly transgender state senator and the highest-ranking transgender official in the U.S. Her victory came just three years after Danica Roem of Virginia became the first openly trans person elected to the lower chamber of a state legislature.

“I am hopeful that there’s a young person desperately in need of that message, who, just before going to bed, looked online and saw this result,” McBride said. “For that person, they know that change is possible and things can get better.”

©2019 New York Times News Service