12 Firsts for Women in the 2014 Midterms
The #WomenRun2014 Twitter feed last night sent me on a wild rollercoaster ride. It was thrilling, nausea-inducing, captivating, frightening, and uplifting—almost all at the same time—as election results rolled in. On the downside, we made no gains in the overall number of female Senators, although there’s still a chance in the December run-off election in Louisiana. We’re also still stuck at only five female governors, which, as the Center for American Women and Politics points out, is a deplorable 10 percent. Additionally, a number of female incumbents lost their seats, and several female challengers around the country faced crushing defeat.
There’s a big upside, though: women cracked glass ceilings across the country. Here are some big Election 2014 breakthroughs for women on both sides of the aisle:
Republican Joni Ernst won her Senate race, becoming the first woman elected to Congress from Iowa. Ernst will also be the first female veteran in the U.S. Senate.
With Bruce Rauner’s victory in the Illinois governor’s race, Republican Evelyn Sanguinetti becomes the United States’ first Latina lieutenant governor.
Mia Love (UT-4), the former mayor of Saratoga Springs, made history as the first black Republican woman elected to Congress, bouncing back from a lost bid in 2012. CAWP notes that Love will also be the first woman to serve Utah’s congressional delegation since 1997.
Republican Elise Stefanik (NY-21) won her race, making her the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at age 30.
Shelley Moore Capito cruised to victory last night, marking her place as the first female senator from West Virginia.Capito is the first GOP Senator from the state in nearly 55 years.
Republican Saira Blair (WV-59), age 18, became America’s youngest state lawmaker ever. Blair, a West Virginia University freshman, led the bulk of her campaign operations from her dorm room.
Rhode Island elected Democrat Gina Raimondo, the state’s first female governor.
Rhode Island also chose Democrat Nellie Gorbea as its new Secretary of State, making her the first Latina to hold statewide office in New England. (Gorbea recently joined Parity at LatinasRepresent Boston. You can watch some of her remarks here).
Democrat Maura Healey won in Massachusetts, becoming the country’s first openly gay attorney general.
Losing to incumbent Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Republican Scott Brown becomes the first candidate to lose two senate races to different women (the first being a loss to Elizabeth Warren).
Mississippi is now the only state that’s never elected a woman to a federal office or governorship. (Cynthia Terrell of FairVote’s Representation 2020 says that at this rate of increase, Mississippi won’t reach gender parity in political office for at least 1,400 years).