a night of firsts

Making history: The fresh faces en route to Washington DC

The youngest-ever woman and Mike Pence’s brother are among those to win seats in Congress.

THE US MIDTERM elections will bring a range of fresh faces to Washington DC, from the youngest-ever woman in Congress to the vice president’s brother. 

The Democratic Party has regained control of the House of Representatives, but failed to regain control of the Senate.

Here is a look at some of the most prominent of the new legislators:

Young, left-wing star 

At 29, staunch left-winger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress and one of the youngest members ever.

Until recently making ends meet as a bartender, Ocasio-Cortez scored an upset in a Democratic primary in New York City to defeat 10-term member Joe Crowley, one of the most powerful members of the party.

aoc Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez SG / AP/Press Association Images SG / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

She easily won yesterday against a Republican in the heavily Democratic and ethnically diverse district straddling Queens and The Bronx.

Ocasio-Cortez is a supporter of leftist Senator Bernie Sanders — who won his own re-election bid yesterday.

She has quickly become a national voice with her calls for a universal healthcare system, tuition-free public universities and the abolition of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has executed President Donald Trump’s campaign to deport undocumented immigrants.

Face of change in Boston

Ayanna Pressley (44) has become the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, representing much of the same area as John F Kennedy.

In a story with parallels to Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley defeated a 10-term male incumbent, Mike Capuano, in the Democratic primary for a left-leaning district that includes much of Boston and Harvard University.

ap Ayanna Pressley Kenneth Martin / Zuma Press/PA Images Kenneth Martin / Zuma Press/PA Images / Zuma Press/PA Images

Like Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley cast her election as part of a need for better representation in the era of the #MeToo movement.

When she won the primary, she denounced President Donald Trump as “a racist, misogynistic, truly empathy-bankrupt man”.

Vice presidential brother

Politics has become a family affair for Vice President Mike Pence, with his brother Greg elected to his former congressional seat in Indiana.

The vice president took to Twitter to congratulate his brother, who easily won the solidly Republican and heavily white district in the Midwestern state.

gp Greg Pence Mike Wolanin / AP/Press Association Images Mike Wolanin / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

The elder Pence has little political experience but touted his family ties and his business record.

Pence headed a chain of fuel suppliers and convenience stores under the name Tobacco Road — which went bankrupt after facing claims worth $100 million.

First Muslim women

For the first time, the US Congress will have Muslim women — and two of them.

Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee, won a House seat in a heavily Democratic district in Minneapolis, where she will succeed Keith Ellison, himself the first Muslim elected to Congress.

io Ilhan Omar Minneapolis Star Tribune / TNS/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images Minneapolis Star Tribune / TNS/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images / TNS/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

Rashida Tlaib, a social worker born in Detroit to Palestinian immigrant parents, won a House seat in a district where she ran unopposed by a Republican candidate.

Tlaib has vehemently opposed Trump — even heckling the then-candidate during a 2016 campaign appearance in Detroit.

rt Rashida Tlaib Jim West / Zuma Press/PA Images Jim West / Zuma Press/PA Images / Zuma Press/PA Images

“I didn’t run because my election would be historic. I ran because of injustices and because of my boys, who are questioning their identity and whether they belong,” Tlaib told ABC News in August.

First Native American woman

Kansas Democrat Sharice Davids has become the first Native American woman elected to Congress, defeating Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder.

Davids (38) is an attorney by training and a former mixed martial arts fighter. She is also openly lesbian, in a state that is traditionally conservative.

sd Sharice Davids Charlie Riedel / AP/Press Association Images Charlie Riedel / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

Davids — who was raised by a single mother Army veteran — won a district that includes Kansas City and its southern suburbs.

She wore a T-shirt in her campaign advertisements that read, ‘Strong, Resilient, Indigenous’.

First openly gay Governor

Democratic Congressman Jared Polis has won the governor’s race in Colorado, making him the first openly gay person to be elected as a US governor.

The five-term congressman (43), who defeated Republican Walker Stapleton, was open about his sexual orientation during the campaign, often referring to it in his criticism of Trump.

Kate Brown became the first bisexual governor when she was elected in Oregon in 2015, while another governor, Jim McGreevey of New Jersey, came out as gay before resigning in 2004.

jp Jared Polis AAron Ontiveroz / AP/Press Association Images AAron Ontiveroz / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

But Polis is the first openly gay candidate to be elected governor. He will succeed Democrat John Hickenlooper, who has been in office since 2011.

A self-made millionaire and tech entrepreneur, Polis was admitted to Princeton University at age 16. And he has said that he set his sights on becoming governor when he was in college.

Polis, who is Jewish, switched his name from Jared Schultz to Jared Polis at age 25 to honor his grandmother, he has said.

He was one of hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates in the midterm elections, including 21 for Congress and four for governor.

© AFP 2018 

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