On Nov. 6, citizens across the United States voted in a monumental midterm election, characterized by countless “firsts” with candidates across the electoral map making history.
One such candidate is right here in Colorado; Jared Polis became the first openly gay governor in U.S. history, beating Republican candidate Walker Stapleton. Polis ran on the promise of making Colorado 100 percent energy renewable by 2040, universal health care coverage, and taking big money out of politics.
Elam Boockvar-Klein ’20 canvassed for Polis in the final month before Tuesday’s election, and he shared his joy in helping elect the country’s first gay governor.
“As a New York City transport, it was very exciting for me to be able to go to school in a swing state. And to then be a part of the constituency that elected the first openly gay governor was an incredible feeling,” said Boockvar-Klein. “I feel like I’ve made a difference in the history of our nation simply by exercising my right to vote.”
There were also several historic firsts for racial and ethnic minorities, including Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, who became the first Native American representatives in Congress from New Mexico and Kansas, respectively. Davids also identifies as a lesbian, making her defeat of four-term incumbent Republican opponent, Kevin Yonder, even more stunning, especially in a state as red as Kansas.
While Congress previously had two male Muslim representatives, Tuesday’s elections brought the country’s first female Muslim representatives: Ilhan Omar from Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib from Michigan. In addition to being Muslim, Omar is also the country’s first refugee representative, immigrating from Somalia to the U.S. as a teenager. In her acceptance speech, she opened with an Arabic phrase as she addressed her supporters: “as-salaam alaikum,” or “peace be unto you.”
Congress also expanded its representatives regarding age, with New York voters electing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the state’s 14th Congressional District. Ocasio-Cortez became a national celebrity after defeating 10-term incumbent, Joe Crowley, in the primaries this summer. A self-identified democratic-socialist and Bronx native, Ocasio-Cortez is just 29-years-old, making her the youngest representative in the country’s history.
Finally, citizens, politicians, and the media alike had been calling 2018 “the year of the woman” since before the primaries even began, and this slogan was realized on Tuesday with over 100 women elected across both chambers, a record-setting number. Sophie Wulfing ’19 shared her excitement about all the women who will assume positions come January.
“I’m just really inspired by how many women won up and down the ballot.” Wulfing said. “It feels like the country is moving in the right direction.”