US Politics

Diverse candidates win big in US midterms

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The US midterms have been called "the beginning of a new Democratic party".

There's been a number of landmark victories for people from minority backgrounds in this year's US midterm elections.

The youngest woman elected to Congress

At 29 years old, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the youngest woman ever elected to the US Congress.

The young Latina from New York City is a self-described "democratic socialist", supporting progressive policies such as universal healthcare, tuition-free public university and gun control.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hugs a supporter after her victory.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hugs a supporter after her victory.
Getty

Ms Ocasio-Cortez is pledging to stand up for "the moral issues" of today.

“When I started this campaign a year ago, I was working in a restaurant in downtown Manhattan. We didn’t launch this campaign because we thought I was special, or unique, or better than anyone else," she said.

"We launched this campaign, because in the absence of anyone giving a clear voice on the moral issues of our time, then it is up to us to voice them."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the campaign trail.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the campaign trail.
Getty

The first Muslim women elected to Congress

Michigan's Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota's Ilhan Omar have become the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

Ms Tlaib is one of 14 children born to Palestinian parents, while Ms Omar was born in a refugee camp in Somalia.

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Somalis are currently banned from entering the US under President Donald Trump's travel ban.

Ms Omar said she'll be proud to represent her state in Washington.

"Our state is very cold, but the people have warm hearts. Because here in Minnesota, we don’t only welcome immigrants - we send them to Washington," she said.

Democrat Ilhan Omar speaks after winning in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District race during the election night event held by the Democratic Party Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)
Democrat Ilhan Omar delivers her victory speech in Minnesota.
AAP

The first Native American women elected to Congress

New Mexico's Deb Haaland and Kansas' Sharice Davids have become the first Native American women elected to Congress.

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"Seventy years ago native Americans right here in New Mexco couldn't vote. Growing up in my mother's Pueblo household, and as a 35th generation New Mexican, I never imagined a world where I would be represented by someone who looks like me," Ms Haaland said.

Ms Haaland's fellow Native American winner, Sharice Davids, is also the first openly LGBTIQA+ person to represent Kansas.

Sharice Davids and her mum Crystal celebrate Davids victory.
Sharice Davids and her mum Crystal celebrate Davids victory.
EPA

The first openly gay man to be elected governor 

Colorado’s Jared Polis has become the US' first openly gay man to win a governorship.

Mr Polis, who decided against making his sexual orientation a big part of his campaign, dedicated his victory to the aspiring LGBTIQA+ politicians who came before him.

Jared Polis and his family in Colorado.
Jared Polis and his family in Colorado.
Polis For Colorado

"For the LGBTQ pioneers, for equality and the generation before me, who endured so much hardship and hurt: right here in Colorado, we proved that no barrier should stand in the way of pursuing our dreams," Mr Polis said.

"We proved that we’re an inclusive state that values every contribution, regardless of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity." 

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US midterms: Democrats to win House, Republicans keep Senate
US midterms: Democrats to win House, Republicans keep Senate

A more diverse Democratic party

While Tuesday marked a series of first steps for the nation, many other candidates fell short in their own groundbreaking bids.

Andrew Gillum was unsuccessful in becoming Florida's first black governor.

Christine Hallquist was already the first transgender major party nominee for governor of Vermont, but they were unable to defeat Republican incumbent Phil Scott.

Christine Hallquist lost her did to be the first US transgender governor.
Christine Hallquist lost her did to be the first US transgender governor.
Getty

Democrats were hopeful that a “blue wave”, an overwhelming win to take control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, would wash over the US.

But while the Democrats didn't pick up as many seats as they would have liked overall, television network CNN's political commentator Van Jones said the party is now much more diverse.

"It is the beginning of a new Democratic party: younger, browner, cooler, more women, more veterans. It may not be a blue wave, [but] it's a rainbow wave."

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