In politics, as in life, it is easy to miss the forest for the trees. Many people in the United States — and some abroad, too — have spent the past several days on edge, addled, glued to the news and anxiously waiting to hear who won the White House in the 2020 election.
But Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Trump weren’t the only names on the ballot. In the federal government and across statehouses, numerous candidates scored wins and made history this week. Here are 10 “firsts” you may have overlooked. Regardless of your political beliefs, these are outcomes worth noting.
Will be first openly nonbinary lawmaker in the U.S.
Mauree Turner, 27, wasn’t looking to run for office. In fact, the criminal justice advocate was trying to recruit other underrepresented Oklahomans to make a bid for the state legislature, Teo Armus writes in The Washington Post. They asked Turner: Why not run yourself? And so it went. Turner, a Black Muslim who wears a hijab and identifies as queer and nonbinary, won a seat in Oklahoma’s state legislature in the 88th House District. With that win, Turner is the first practicing Muslim elected to Oklahoma’s legislature and will be the country’s first openly nonbinary state lawmaker and highest-ranking nonbinary official.
First Black woman elected to Congress from Missouri
Cori Bush, 44, an activist, nurse and pastor, became known for organizing in 2014. She led protests after Michael Brown, a Black 18-year-old, was shot to death by police. In August, Bush defeated Rep. William Lacy Clay, who has been in office since 2000, in the Democratic primary. And on Tuesday night, she became the first Black woman elected to Congress from Missouri. She will be representing Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Ferguson, where Brown was killed.
First transgender person in the U.S. to be a state senator-elect
Sarah McBride, 30, has made history before. In 2012, she became the first openly transgender person to serve in the White House as an intern. Eight years later, she outdid herself: McBride won the race in Delaware’s 1st Senate District, becoming the first openly transgender person elected to a state senate. She will also be the highest-ranking transgender state legislator in the country.
First Korean American woman elected to Congress and the first Black person elected to represent Washington state federally
Marilyn Strickland ran a history-making campaign in America, but her story begins in Seoul. Her father, who fought in World War II, met her mother while stationed in Korea after the war. Strickland, the former mayor of Tacoma, Wash., beat out another Democrat in Washington’s 10th Congressional District to become the first Korean American woman elected to Congress. She will also be the first Black lawmaker to represent Washington state on the federal level.
First female U.S. senator-elect from Wyoming
Cynthia Lummis, 66, is no political newcomer. She was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2009 to 2017, and before that, served in Wyoming as a state treasurer and state legislator. On Tuesday night, she defeated Democrat Merav Ben-David, an ecology and zoology professor at the University of Wyoming, and will become the first woman to represent Wyoming in the Senate.
Will be first openly queer, Black female state legislator in Florida
Michele Rayner-Goolsby knows the law. The civil rights attorney founded her own firm and gained widespread recognition for representing victims of police brutality, including the family of Markeis McGlockton, the 28-year-old man fatally shot in a Clearwater, Fla., parking lot dispute. (At the time, Florida authorities said the shooter was protected under “stand your ground” laws; he was later convicted of manslaughter.) On Tuesday, Rayner-Goolsby became the first openly queer Black woman elected to Florida’s legislature. She will represent the 70th District in the state House.
First openly transgender person elected to the Vermont legislature
Taylor Small told the Burlington Free Press that she has always wanted to try her hand at politics. But she never expected to be elected at age 26. Small is the director of a health and wellness program at a Vermont nonprofit that serves the state’s LGBTQ community. She has a drag persona, Nikki Champagne, and has participated in Drag Queen Story Hour events across Vermont. Small will serve in Vermont’s House, representing the Chittenden 6-7 District.
First transgender person of color elected to a U.S. state legislature
Before setting her sights on the statehouse, Stephanie Byers set down roots in the schoolhouse. For 29 years, she taught for Wichita Public Schools. The retired band teacher, who is a member of the Chickasaw Nation, a Native American tribe, won the seat for the 86th District of the Kansas House on Tuesday. In doing so, she became the first transgender person of color elected to a U.S. state legislature.
New Mexico will have its largest-ever female House delegation and largest-ever delegation of women of color
In New Mexico, three individual victories collectively created a milestone. Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland in the 1st District, Republican Yvette Herrell in the 2nd District and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez in the 3rd District all won their races to form a history-making delegation to the U.S. House. New Mexico is now sending the largest ever all-female delegation to the House, and all three are women of color.
Will be the first all-female Board of Supervisors in L.A. history
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors had a curious nickname: “Five Little Kings.” Historically, the board, widely regarded as America’s most powerful local government body, was made up entirely or mostly of men, writes Lily contributor Soo Youn. But On Wednesday, when state Sen. Holly Mitchell defeated Herb Wesson, an L.A. City Council member, to win the fifth seat on the board, that nickname was rendered wholly inaccurate. Mitchell will join incumbents Hilda L. Solis, Sheila Kuehl, Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger to form the first all-woman L.A. Board of Supervisors. Their power is vast; L.A. County has 10 million residents, a population greater than those of 41 states. Feel free to call them the Five Little Queens.