November 5, 2018 / 9:07 PM / 3 months ago

FACTBOX-Breaking barriers: U.S. election winners could mark minority firsts

 (Adds details on additional candidate)
    By Ginger Gibson
    Nov 5 (Reuters) - The 2018 U.S. congressional elections
prompted a surge of candidates from minority groups that have
not had electoral success in the past. 
    Several have the potential to be the first of their
background elected to office on Tuesday.
    The following are details on some of the possible firsts
that the 2018 midterm elections could mark:

    First female Muslim member of Congress: There are two women
running with the potential to become the first female Muslim
member of Congress - Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in
    If elected, Omar would also the first member of Congress to
wear a hijab or head scarf, which she does as a Muslim. She
would also be the first Somali-American elected to Congress.
    Tlaib would be the first Palestinian-American elected to
    First female African-American governor: In Georgia, Democrat
Stacey Abrams is locked in a tight race with Brian Kemp to lead
the southern state. If she wins, Abrams would be the nation's
first female African-American governor.
    First transgender governor: In Vermont, Christine Hallquist
is running as a Democrat and would be the nation's first openly
transgender governor. A poll conducted in October by Gravis
found her trailing Republican Phil Scott by 10 percentage
    First Native American governor and woman in Congress: Three
candidates could make history representing Native Americans in
elected office. In Idaho, Democrat Paulette Jordan has an uphill
battle for the governor's race against Republican Brad Little,
but if she won would be the nation's first Native American
    Two Native American women could be the first elected to
Congress - Sharice Davids in Kansas and Deb Haaland in New
    State's first female governor: There are four women running
for governor's seats who, if elected, would be their respective
states' first female state executive.
    Jordan in Idaho and Abrams in Georgia would each be firsts.
Democrat Janet Mills is the front-runner in the Maine
gubernatorial race. Republican Kristi Noem has a narrow lead in
the governor's race in South Dakota.   
    First consecutive female governors: New Mexico's Michelle
Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, is trying to replace outgoing
Republican Governor Susana Martinez, which would be the first
time a state has elected two women in a row to the governor's
    First gay male governor: Jared Polis already notched a first
when he was elected to the U.S. House as the first openly gay
non-incumbent elected to Congress. Now he is hoping to win his
close race to be the governor of Colorado and become the
nation's first openly gay man to win a gubernatorial election.  
    Youngest woman elected to Congress: After defeating a
long-time incumbent in a primary, 28-year-old Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez, who faces no Republican rival, is all but certain
to become the youngest woman elected to Congress. The title was
previously held by Representative Elise Stefanik, a Republican
who was first elected at the age of 30 in 2014. William Charles
Cole Claiborne was the youngest member elected to the House at
age 22 in 1797. He was seated despite not meeting the
constitutional age requirement of 25 years.    
    First Korean-American woman elected to Congress: There are
two women running who could become the first Korean-American
female U.S. representative. Republican Young Kim of California
and Republican Pearl Kim of Pennsylvania are both locked in
tight races.
    There are currently no members of Congress who are
Korean-American. Democrat Andy Kim of New Jersey who is
Korean-American is also running.     
    First black woman from New England in Congress: Democrat
Jahana Hayes could secure two firsts if she is elected to the
U.S. House, the first black woman elected to Congress from
Connecticut and from all of New England. And she may not be the
only African-American woman to get elected to Congress in New
England. Ayanna Pressley is likely to win a seat in Congress
from Massachusetts.  
    First Hispanic woman to Congress from Texas: There are two
women running in Texas both hoping to be the first Hispanic
women from the Lone Star state to go to Congress. Democrats
Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are both front-runners in
their races.
    First openly gay veteran elected to Congress: Democrat Gina
Ortiz Jones in Texas could become the first openly lesbian
veteran elected to Congress if she wins her close race. 

 (Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Scott Malone, Cynthia
Osterman and Lisa Shumaker)
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