Meet the Women History Makers of the Midterms
The 2022 midterm elections aren't over yet, and though key race results are still rolling in and control of the Senate and the House is too close to call, one thing is clear: women broke ground. Amid a deeply polarized political landscape, many of Tuesday's victors made history and celebrated impressive firsts.
"I didn't run to be the first, but it's not lost on me what this means."
In a historic win, Maura Healey took the governor seat in Massachusetts, making her the nation's first openly lesbian governor, as well as the first woman to hold the position in her state. Though the governor race in Oregon has not yet been called, Tina Kotek is poised to become one of the first out lesbian governors in the country. Representatives in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Vermont, and more also made history: Summer Lee will become Pennsylvania's first Black congresswoman and Delia Ramirez was elected as the first Latina to represent Illinois in Congress.
In victory speeches and tweets, the newly elected officials recognized their inspiring wins and highlighted the importance of representation. "I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever you want to be," Healey said to a crowd. Andrea Campbell, Massachusetts's first Black woman attorney-general-elect, powerfully said, "I didn't run to be the first, but it's not lost on me what this means."
These wins provide reassurance and demonstrate progress since the 2020 election, which also saw a string of influential firsts, including Sarah McBride becoming the first openly transgender state senator and highest-ranking trans official in US history, as well as Cori Bush becoming the first Black woman to represent Missouri in Congress.
Keep reading to meet women who made history in the 2022 midterms.
Maura Healey won her race in Massachusetts to become the nation's first openly lesbian governor. She was also the state's first woman and first openly gay candidate elected to the office. "I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever you want to be," she said to a crowd in her victory speech. "And nothing and no one can ever get in your way except your own imagination, and that's not going to happen."
Becca Balint became Vermont's first woman and first openly gay representative elected to Congress. "Today, we reaffirmed that Vermont, and this nation, is still a place where anything is possible," Balint wrote on Instagram, thanking her constituents. "We're still capable of change and progress. Tonight, after 231 years, Vermonters are sending a woman and openly gay person to Congress for the first time."
Summer Lee won Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district, making her the state's first Black congresswoman. She described her campaign as a "multicultural, multigenerational movement" in a speech late Tuesday. "We fought. We built coalitions. We brought together people who had never worked together on campaigns," she said.
Kathy Hochul became New York's first woman governor when Andrew Cuomo resigned in August 2021, but on Election Day, she became the first woman to be formally elected for governor in the state. "The lessons of tonight with this victory are that given the choice, New Yorkers refuse to go backwards on our long march towards progress," she said in a speech following her defeat of Lee Zeldin.
Andrea Campbell will be Massachusetts's first Black woman attorney general. The politician, who previously ran for Boston mayor in 2020, devoted her victory to "those who have felt unseen" in a speech following her win. "I didn't run to be the first," she said, "but it's not lost on me what this means, not only for Massachusetts, but for our nation.
"We say representation matters, when we win tonight, and I'm going to put it out there because we're going to work hard to win, I know what it means for every little girl, or anyone who feels left out and left behind and doesn't envision themselves taking on some leadership role, especially coming from a tragic upbringing."
As the lieutenant-governor-elect of Maryland, Aruna Miller will be the first Asian American and first Indian American to hold the seat. Miller, who ran alongside newly elected Gov. Wes Moore, wrote on Twitter, "The moral to this story is, NEVER EVER underestimate the underdogs. And guess what — we'll always look out for the underdogs."
Shirley Weber succeeded Alex Padilla as California's secretary of state in January 2021, but she became the state's first Black person to be elected to the role following the midterms. "I'm honored by the trust and faith California voters have placed in me," she tweeted after her win became evident.
Elected as a representative for Illinois's third congressional district, Delia Ramirez will be the first Latina to represent not only the state, but also the Midwest, in Congress. "You have seen possibility and potential in me, what I haven't seen in myself," she said during a celebration on Nov. 8.