This week’s round of primary voting will once again set the stage for more history-making moments for women in politics. Voters head to the polls in Connecticut, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Vermont on Tuesday. Those ballots feature candidates poised to break barriers on behalf of the LGBTQ community, women of color and gender parity in politics as a whole.
Here’s a look at what’s at stake for female candidates in the August 14 primaries:
A record number of transgender candidates are seeking office this year.
But an openly transgender person has never been elected governor — or even as a major party nominee for the top statewide executive post. That could change Tuesday. Christine Hallquist, a former chief executive of Vermont Electric Cooperative, is seen as a front-runner to become Democrats’ gubernatorial nominee in the Green Mountain state. If elected in November, Hallquist would be the second woman to serve as governor in the state’s history, according to the Center for American Women and Politics’ Gender Watch project.
While she talks about her transition on the campaign trail, Hallquist told The Washington Post that her bid is centered around this issues impacting the state’s voters, like the economy and health care.
Vermont isn’t likely to see any improvements in gender parity at the federal level, though. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch, both incumbents, are expected to easily win their bids over female challenges for the Democratic nomination, meaning it will remain the only state that has never sent a woman to the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives.
Minnesota’s primary election could deliver major wins for women up and down the ballot. Both the state’s U.S. Senate seats and governor are up for a vote this year and all three races feature female candidates prominently.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is expected to cruise through the Democratic primary in her bid for re-election. But Minnesota voters must also decide who should replace former Sen. Al Franken, who resigned last year amid allegations that he had inappropriately touched multiple women.
On the Democratic side, Tina Smith, the former lieutenant governor appointed to the Senate seat in January, is running to keep the job for the remainder of the term. Republicans also have a chance to nominate a female candidate, state Sen. Karin Housley, for the November ballot.
Voters will also decide whether to move one step closer to selecting a female governor for the first time. The heated Democratic primary for the open seat features two women, including an all-female governor-lieutenant governor ticket.
If women sweep all three races come November, it will be a significant milestone. According to CAWP, just two other states (New Hampshire and Washington) have ever had a female governor and two female senators serving at the same time.
The state could move toward send a woman of color to Congress for the first time, too.
State Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose 2016 election to the Minnesota House made her the highest-ranking Somali-American, Muslim woman elected in the United States, and state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, who is Latina, are both running in the Democratic primary for an open U.S. House seat.
If elected, Omar would join Michigan congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib as one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress ever.
In Wisconsin, two women, Kathleen Vinehout and Kelda Roys, are competing in a crowded Democratic primary to take on GOP Gov. Scott Walker in November. If successful, either would be the first female governor in the state’s history. Female candidates could also boost the gender representation ratio in the state’s congressional delegation. As it stands now, just one of the state’s eight U.S. representatives is a woman, according to CAWP. Five have filed to run in the primary, including Cathy Myers, a Democrat running to try to flip outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan’s seat.
And in Connecticut, voters will decide whether to advance candidates who could become the first women of color to represent the state in Congress, CAWP notes. Democrat Jahana Hayes, who is black, and Republican Ruby O’Neill, who is Latina, are both running for an open congressional seat.