This November, the nation may be in for a wave of female political power like we’ve never seen.
A record number of women are running for office (candidates who are women of color rose a whopping 75 percent between 2012 and 2018, and candidates who are white women rose 36 percent), and many of them are poised to be important “firsts”: the first African-American female governor; the first Native American woman in Congress; the first all-female national ticket.
It’s disturbing that there remains so much ground to break—nearly half of the 50 states have never sent a woman to the Senate, five states have never had a woman represent them in the House, and Vermont has never sent a woman to either chamber of Congress. Which means 2018 could be a big year.
Who are the notable women—whether they're breaking up an all-male delegation or achieving a significant "first"—in your state? Click to find out:
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Mallory Hagan, Democrat
Running for Congress in Alabama's 3rd District
Mallory Hagan took on the Miss America pageant after its higher-ups were caught shaming and defaming her and other contestants. Now, she’s taking on a long-time male congressman in Alabama. Hagan, 29, was crowned Miss America in 2013, and is running against 59-year-old Trump-supporting Republican Mike Rogers, who has been the congressman from Alabama’s 3rd congressional district since 2003.
“There are roughly 43 million millennial women across our country, yet we only have four women under the age of 40 in Congress,” says Hagan. “On average, there is a 20+ year age gap between congresspersons and the constituents they are elected to represent.” That, Hagan explains, is one reason she’s running. If she wins, she will be the first Miss America in any federal office—not to mention one of the youngest women in Congress.
“The people of Alabama deserve a better future and a better life,” Hagan says. “Right now, Alabama is near or at the bottom in every measurable category—healthcare, education, infrastructure, government transparency, etc. Combine those statistics with the rhetoric and ignorance on display by our political leaders at all levels of government, and it is disheartening at the very least. Our country needs public leaders who will echo the voices of the people and will fight for their best interest.”
Tabitha Isner, Democrat
Running for Congress in Alabama's 2nd District
“Alabama needs a champion,” exclaims Tabitha Isner. And that’s why she’s running for Congress in Alabama’s 2nd congressional district. If she’s elected, she would be the first ordained female minister in the House. “My role in this election is to find common ground between people who have come to accept—willingly or begrudgingly—that there is no common ground,” she says. “By being a devout Christian Democrat, I disrupt the Southern conception of godless liberals and build bridges with other religiously motivated voters.”
Alyse Galvin, Independent
Running for Congress (Alaska has just one U.S. House seat)
If Alyse Galvin wins her congressional race, she will unseat the House’s longest-serving member (Don Young, 85, who has held his seat for 45 years). Galvin is already the first independent candidate to represent the Democratic Party in a general election after winning the Democratic primary, and is set to represent, as she puts it, “a diverse Alaskan family of builders, butchers, bankers, mechanics, misfits and outlaws.”
Among her priorities: quality affordable health care, lower prescription drug prices, diversifying the economy, and public safety. “Not only does Alaska have the highest rates of sexual and domestic violence in the country, we also have whole communities with no law enforcement coverage,” says Galvin. “Considering this, plus our exploding healthcare costs and our economy's reliance on the price of a barrel of oil, Alaskans need bold, tenacious leadership in Washington to move our state forward.”
Galvin could also be the first woman Alaska sends to the House of Representatives—and perhaps the first trained classical music singer. “When I was a child, I grew up in a home with domestic violence, alcoholism, and abuse,” Galvin says. “But I turned to music and a community of singers to help lift me up. Now I try to do the same with others." Twenty years ago, Galvin starred in the Anchorage production of The Sound of Music as Maria. She's also a proud member of Sally's Kitchen: "a group of Alaskan moms who sing at events for kids to help instill the love of music in their hearts.”
Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat
Running for Senate
This November, the United States may get its first openly bisexual senator in Kyrsten Sinema. She’s running against Martha McSally (Senator Jeff Flake is not running for re-election), meaning Arizona will have its first female senator either way, but McSally wants to outlaw abortion in nearly all cases and has jumped on the Trump Train when it comes to LGBTQ rights.
Sinema, by contrast, is pro-choice, prioritizes women’s rights, and advocates for LGBTQ equality. “I got my shot at the American Dream, and now I’m running for Senate to make sure every Arizonan gets her shot, too,” says Sinema. “Voters are tired of the chaos in Washington. Arizonans who want to go to college or learn a trade should be able to get a student loan without falling into crippling debt. Health care coverage costs too much and the benefits aren’t good enough. Arizonans want someone who focuses on standing up for veterans, making healthcare more affordable, protecting Medicare and Social Security, and fighting for Arizona jobs.”
Hayden Shamel, Democrat
Running for Congress in Arkansa's 4th District
Hayden Shamel, the 36-year-old chair of the Garland County Democratic Party, is running for Congress in Arkansas’s fourth district. If she wins, she will be the only woman in Arkansas’s currently all-male (and all-Republican) congressional delegation.
Katie Hill, Democrat
Running for Congress in California's 25th District
Katie Hill is a 30-year-old bisexual woman looking to flip a red district blue—and relying on a team of fellow millennials to do it. “I’m young, I’m a woman, I’m a member of the LGBTQ community, and I’m actively working to break down the barriers between representatives and those they want to represent,” says Hill. “I’ve been very open throughout this campaign, about everything from my experience with sexual assault to my unplanned pregnancy, because when someone goes to the ballot box they’re not just voting for a policy or a party, they’re voting for a person. For so long, stories like mine haven’t been talked about by political candidates, but I believe our individual diversity and our personal stories make us stronger.”
Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding, Democrat
Running for Congress in Colorado's 5th District
Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding, a pastor and professor of Women’s and Ethnic Studies, would be the first African American to represent Colorado in Congress. “Because Congress is overwhelmingly white and male, as an institution, it can’t possibly grasp the challenges and aspirations of a nation that is significantly more female, and ethnically and culturally diverse,” explains Spaulding. “Our people deserve leaders in Washington who truly represent them because they come from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences.”
Like several of the female candidates breaking new ground this year (and many of the women cheering them on), Spauldingis also a single woman with no children, running on a solidly progressive agenda and a dense résumé. And she was inspired to run when she attended the Women’s March. Spaulding, in other words, is something of an avatar for the new generation of women storming the political gates—right down to the fact that her standard chill-out weekend involves binge-watching Golden Girls and Law & Order: SVU (politicians: they’re just like us!).
Jahana Hayes, Democrat
Running for Congress in Connecticut's 5th District
Jahana Hayes is the favorite in Connecticut’s 5th District congressional race, and if she wins, she’ll be the state’s first African-American Democrat in Congress, and the first African-American congresswoman from all of New England. But Hayes is used to fighting hard and breaking ground. She first became a mother at 17 after growing in a housing project, herself raised by a mother who struggled with addition. She put herself through school (she’s still paying off her student loans) and became such a powerful and effective educator that in 2016, Barack Obama named her Teacher of the Year. Now, she’s running against Republican Manny Santos, and hopes to bring her expertise and experience to the halls of Congress.
Kathy McGuiness, Democrat
Running for State Auditor
While groundbreakers in national races—Senate, Congress—tend to get the most attention, women are also positioning themselves as potential “firsts” in state roles that are just as important (and often serve as crucial pipelines to political influence). Kathy McGuiness could be Delaware’s first female state auditor if she wins her race this year.
Lauren Baer, Democrat
Running for Congress in Florida's 18th District
“Coming out was one of the hardest things I've ever done & also one of the most important,” Lauren Baer wrote in October. “Visibility brings recognition & builds understanding. To every LGBT kid in #FL18 and America: Be you. Be out. And be proud. #NationalComingOutDay.” If elected, Baer will be the first LGBT person Florida has sent to Congress.
“I never thought that I would run for office,” reveals Baer. “I’m a lawyer by training, and I spent six years as an official in the State Department during the Obama administration. I was very happy in the world of policy, not politics. But my daughter, Serena, was born two weeks before the 2016 presidential election, and I think every day about her future and my responsibility to create the kind of world I want her to live in."
Baer's chronically-ill mother, Nancy, was one of 74,000 people in her District who stood to lose their healthcare when her opponent Brian Mast voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. "I had always wondered what I would do at a time in our nation’s history when our values and institutions were under threat, and when faced with that point, the answer was really quite simple: I was going to get into the arena and fight," says Baer. "And I was going to do it for my own mother and my own daughter, but also every other mother, father, son, and daughter in our District. The stakes were simply too high this year to sit on the sidelines.”
Stacey Abrams, Democrat
Running for Governor
Stacey Abrams is a force of nature. At 44, the Georgia gubernatorial candidate is also a novelist, lawyer, and seasoned politician—and if she wins, she’ll be the first African-American female governor in the United States.
“We need a variety of perspectives at the decision-making table to ensure that no one is left out and left behind in our political system,” says Abrams, who is already the first black woman to be nominated for governor by a major party in any state. “I grew up in a working poor family, and my parents raised their six children with the values of faith, family, service, and responsibility. Those same beliefs guided me as I began my career in politics and guide me now as I run to become governor of Georgia. I know that our beginnings do not dictate who we will become in the future. That is why I am running for governor of Georgia—to give those who do not see themselves represented in politics the opportunity to live up to their highest potential.”
Medicaid expansion is her top priority for her state, and she looks to a list of other women for inspiration on how to run, govern and take professional risks: former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, Shirley Chisholm (the first black woman elected to Congress), and one of her professors at Spelman College, Dr. Johnetta Cole, who, Abrams says, “taught me to be bold.” But she’s not all business: Abrams also pens romance novels under the nom de plume Selena Montgomery. And she’s an admitted “huge Trekkie” who even went to DragonCon in Atlanta this year. “I met cast member and star of Supernatural Felicia Day,” Abrams said. “I admit: I fan-girled.”
Sarah Riggs Amico, Democrat
Running for Lieutenant Governor
Sarah Riggs Amico is running alongside Abrams for Lieutenant Governor, and if elected, she will also be the first woman in the position. She and Abrams could also make history as Georgia’s first simultaneously serving female governor and female lieutenant governor (at campaign events, they play “Run the World” by Beyoncé). This is unconfirmed, but BAZAAR.com also believes the two may be the first hardcore Trekkie Governor / Lt. Governor pairing in the nation. “I love Captain Kirk's response to the Kobayashi Maru in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan,” says Riggs Amico. “'I don't believe in the no-win scenario.’ Imagine how much our nation could accomplish for our people if we lived up to that mantra!”
Andria Tupola, Republican
Running for Governor
Andria Tupola could be Hawaii’s first female governor if she wins the election in November. Tupola is a Republican who says she is personally pro-life but would uphold Hawaii’s laws. But don’t think she’s a progressive feminist in GOP clothing: she is endorsed by the National Rifle Association, and isn’t particularly keen on saying where she differs from President Trump on any major issues.
Paulette Jordan, Democrat
Running for Governor
Paulette Jordan could be the nation’s first Native American governor and the first female governor of Idaho. She’s a gun-toting Democrat who knows her way around a horse, and also wants to expand health care coverage for her fellow Idahoans.
“I’m a Idahoan, through and through, born and raised,” says Jordan. “The people, the land… it’s my home. Career politicians have failed us, we are 49th in education and 50th in average weekly wages. When I took a long hard look at the person to my left, then to the person to my right, and the community right in front of me, it didn't take much for all of us to see that I did not have a choice. All of us across Idaho can come together—we are ready for change.”
Whether she will win in a mostly white, very conservative state that Trump won handily remains an open question, but Jordan says she—and Idaho—are ready. “Being a woman of color and potentially the first Native American governor in this country would be a statement to all young Americans of color that there is a pathway toward success, toward having a responsible way to be involved in this great country of ours,” she says. “For all those reasons, I don't feel like I'm only running for myself, but for a new and sorely needed infusion of something new into our government.”
Lauren Underwood, Democrat
Running for Congress in Illinois' 14th District
Lauren Underwood is 31 years old, making her youngest black woman running for Congress this year, and the first woman ever to get the Democratic nomination in her district. Even though she’s running in a mostly white district, Underwood managed to beat out six white men for the nomination—and now there’s just one more to go in the election on November 6.
Jeannine Lee Lake, Democrat
Running for Congress in Indiana's 6th District
The Congressional race in Indiana’s 6th District is a battle of the fame-adjacent: There’s Greg Pence, big brother to the Vice President; and there’s Jeannine Lee Lake, who has made up for her lack of famous political siblings with an endorsement from David Letterman. Lake is also the first African-American woman to win a major party nomination to Congress from her district, and will be the district’s first black woman to serve if she wins.
She decided to run, she admits, “because my daughter asked me one day if the President of the United States hated black people. I did not feel comfortable telling her that the President did not hate black people. As I looked around the heartland I realized that this country and my beloved Indiana had become divided. Under the current leadership we had not seen the change that had been promised: better healthcare, no worry if a pre-existing condition exists, higher wages, and inclusiveness for all.” Making the world better for her four children, all of whom she fostered before adopting them, drives her campaign.
Cindy Axne, Democrat
Running for Congress in Iowa's 3rd District
Cindy Axne is a small business owner, community activist, and potentially, the first woman Iowa has sent to the House of Representatives. She’s running in a district that just might flip from red to blue if she makes state history and goes to Washington.
Abby Finkenauer, Democrat
Running for Congress in Iowa's 99th District
Abby Finkenauer could also be Iowa’s first woman in Congress, and at just 29, she would also be the youngest woman elected to Congress (good news for millennial women: There are multiple young women running this year who are all younger than any previous woman to serve in Congress).
Sharice Davids, Democrat
Running for Congress in Kanas' 3rd District
Sharice Davids might be the first Native American lesbian woman elected to Congress. According to a Republican official in her state, Davids is a "radical socialist kickboxing lesbian Indian" who will soon “be sent packing back to the reservation.” After a national backlash to his derogatory comments, he has resigned. Davids, a mixed martial arts fighter and an attorney, is going strong—and knows how to win a fight without punching below the belt.
Amy McGrath, Democrat
Running for Congress in Kentucky's 6th District
Amy McGrath knows how to compete in the boys’ club. The retired lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps is now gunning to break up the all-male Congressional delegation in Kentucky with her run for congress from the state’s 6th district. McGrath has turned the race into a toss-up—a battle that the New York Times cast as one of “ideology vs. résumé.” (Where have we heard that before?) McGrath’s opponent has cast her, a former combat aviator, as too liberal for her potential constituency—she’s a pro-choice feminist, he says with intent to terrify. Her response: “Seriously? Is that all you got?”
Mimi Methvin, Democrat
Running for Congress in Louisiana's 3rd District
Louisiana has only sent two women to the House of Representatives in the state’s history. Mimi Methvin, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and a judge, could be the first from her district.
“We need dialogue that reflects the experience of Americans across the spectrum, not just a select few,” says Methvin. “My perspective is that of a woman who came of age at the beginning of the women's movement, whose law school class was 40 percent female, but who has watched many women struggle and fall by the wayside professionally for a variety of reasons, including unequal pay, the motherhood penalty, and lack of affordable child care. As a judge for more than 28 years, I know what it's like to exercise authority, and the social penalty that comes with that for many women. With an historic number of women seeking higher office in 2018, we will continue to change social norms, and I hope we will help achieve government policies for the common good.” Those policies, Methvin says, include universal healthcare, debt-free college, and a $15 minimum wage.
Renee Free, Democrat
Running for Secretary of State
Renee Free is aiming to be Louisiana’s first female Secretary of State. She’s imminently qualified, having worked in the Attorney General’s office for two decades, and then as the First Assistant Secretary of State as Louisiana rebuilt its elections infrastructure.
Genevieve McDonald, Democrat
Running for Legislator for Maine's District 134
Genevieve McDonald, running for the Maine House of Representatives, would be the first new mother of twins to serve in the Maine legislature. Her coastal district is comprised mostly of islands, and McDonald, a commercial lobster boat captain, puts managing the state’s marine resources at the top of her list. “We need greater diversity in our political leaders so that our government is more representative of the people,” she says. “I am a working class, working mom. I understand what it's like to struggle with finding affordable healthcare, paying for education, and balancing building a career while raising a family.”
Janet Mills, Democrat
Running for Governor
"I have always been someone who tries to roll up their sleeves and fix problems,”says Janet Mills, who might just make history as Maine’s first female governor. But she’s used to breaking glass ceilings: Mills was Maine’s first female District Attorney (and the first in all of New England) and its first attorney general. That wasn’t easy: “I can recall years ago attending a conference and having a male DA turn to me and ask me to get him a coffee,” Mills remembers. “Also, when I was prosecuting homicides years ago, a newspaper columnist followed one of my trials. His article appeared in the society section of the Sunday paper, much to my surprise, and was titled, ‘The Prosecutor Wore Pale Powder Blue.’ It focused on my dress and my hair style rather than on the facts of the case I had just won.”
Healthcare is her top issue, a concern, she says, “that is very personal to me. Five years ago, my husband, Stan, suffered a debilitating stroke. It changed our lives. For the next year before he passed away, I fought for him while he was in-and-out of hospitals and health care facilities, all while working full-time myself—it was tough on our family. But I knew, too, that what we were going through was no different than what thousands of other working Maine families were going through: facing a confusing and complex health care system, with increasing deductibles and premiums, and—for many—unaffordable co-pays and high prescription drug costs.”
Angela Alsobrooks, Democrat
Running for County Executive
Angela Alsobrooks is running for county executive in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and will be the first black woman in the seat if she’s elected. She is, according to NBA player Kevin Durant’s mother, “one of the homegirls”: a woman who has spent her entire life in Prince George’s County, working on domestic violence cases as an assistant state’s attorney, and winning the election to become the county’s youngest and first female state’s attorney in 2010. Her parents and her grandmother Leila Bright are her biggest influences, reveals Alsobrooks, and their emphasis on education despite not having gone to college themselves helped set her on her current path—and education is her top issue. “They have taught me the importance of a strong work ethic, always being true to your word and having the strongest character and integrity possible,” says Alsobrooks. “As my dad always says, there are two things you cannot get back once you lose them: your time and your good name.”
Ayanna Pressley, Democrat
Running for Congress in Massachusetts 7th District
It’s hard to be more of a trailblazer than Ayanna Pressley. She was the first woman of color to sit on the Boston city council, and now she may be the first African-American woman in the House from all of New England.
She beat out a 10-term incumbent Democrat in the primary to become her party’s nominee for the only majority of-color district in Massachusetts. Pressley’s political rise is especially notable given her story: She was raised by a single mother and a father who was often in prison; at 19, having made it to Boston University, she was raped. Pressley has spoken openly about her experiences, putting herself out there as a woman who hasn’t just succeeded, but persevered.
Rashida Tlaib, Democrat
Running for Congress in Michigan's 13th District
Rashida Tlaib is going to Congress, and will be the first Muslim woman there—and may be joined by Ilhan Omar from Minnesota. Tlaib is running against a write-in candidate who stands little chance of winning, which will also make her the first Palestinian-American to serve in Congress (her parents were immigrants).
Angie Craig, Democrat
Running for Congress in Minnesota's 2nd District
If elected, Angie Craig will be Minnesota’s first openly gay congresswoman. She came to politics in part because of her own struggles: After adopting a son with her partner, the adoption was challenged by the boy’s grandparents, who criticized Craig’s “nontraditional” home. Craig and her partner won the case, raising their boy into a now 20-year-old young man.
“Our nation needs leaders who represent everyone in their districts, regardless of political party or background,” says Craig. “I believe my background growing up in a mobile home park, working my way through college, fighting to adopt my oldest son and working my way up in two healthcare manufacturing businesses gives me a unique perspective and the necessary knowledge to help fix our nation's broken healthcare system. I'll work to make sure that all Minnesotans are able to live their own version of the American Dream, just like I have.”
Peggy Flanagan, Democrat
Running for Lieutenant Governor
In Minnesota, a win by Democrat Peggy Flanagan for Lieutenant Governor would give the state its first Native American woman in the position, and make Flanagan the highest-ranking Native American female elected official in the United States.
The same is true if her Republican opponent, Donna Bergstrom, wins. But Flanagan says she’s different—not just from Bergstrom, but from the status quo. “I'm running for Lt. Governor to fix a very basic problem in Minnesota's state government: Too often, decisions are made that affect people without asking those people if they want those decisions made,” she explains. “In my two terms as State Representative, I've seen bills brought to the floor for a vote that would directly impact the lives of Native Americans, people of color, the working poor, people with disabilities, and countless others—and lawmakers never reached out to the communities who would be directly affected by these bills. It fuels cynicism and is bad way to govern.”
One woman who inspired Flanagan to run was Savanna Greywind, a young pregnant Native woman who was murdered and whose baby was cut out of her body—but the national media, and people outside of the Native community, paid little attention. “Too often, at best, Native women are invisible; at worst, we are disposable,” Flanagan says. “Native women, Native people need to be seen, heard and valued. I want my 5-year-old daughter, and other indigenous girls, to know that anything is possible. Too many politicians talk about ‘those people’ with disdain. Well, I am ‘those people’ and we need to have a seat at the decision-making table.”
If she does take that seat, she says she will prioritize children and families, from health care to affordable childcare. And her status as Montana’s potential first Native American person to hold a statewide office wouldn’t be the only ground she’s breaking—“I'll also most likely be the first Lt. Governor to enter office while still paying off student loans,” Flanagan says. “I'm very proud of the first fact; less so of the second, which is why we will also fight for affordable college for everyone.”
Ilhan Omar, Democrat
Running for Congress in Minnesota's 5th District
Ilhan Omar, like Rashida Talaib, could be the first Muslim woman in Congress (or one of the first two). She became the first Somali legislator in the U.S. when she was elected to the state house in Minnesota, and the 36-year-old mother of three is now hoping to move up to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cindy Hyde-Smith, Republican
Running for Senate
Mississippi, unfortunately, has a real dearth of women running this year. The only one running for national office is Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican running in a special election. She faces a tough Democratic challenge from former Clinton administration Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy. Hyde-Smith highlights her cultural conservative bona fides by campaigning on three issues: her opposition to abortion rights, her opposition to immigration, and her support of gun rights. Hyde-Smith is already the appointed senator in Mississippi—and the only woman to ever represent Mississippi in Congress, a statistic that, in 2018, should be a true embarrassment for the state.
Claire McCaskill, Renee Hoagenson, Katy Geppert, Kathy Ellis, Democrats
Running for Senate and Congress in Missouri's 4th, 3rd, and 8th Districts
Missouri has a female senator in Claire McCaskill, as well as two congresswomen up for reelection, Ann L. Wagner and Vicky Hartzler—both anti-abortion Republicans. Wins from Renee Hoagenson, Katy Geppert or Kathy Ellis would put a pro-choice Democratic woman in Missouri’s House delegation. And McCaskill herself isn’t totally safe in her seat, given that she’s running one of the tightest races of the midterms, in a state Trump won. Her opponent, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, is a right-wing hardliner who has compared gay people to Nazis, asserted that AIDS is the penalty for men who have sex with men, and has claimed, dubiously, that “Jesus did not like the minimum wage.” He has also blamed the sexual revolution for human trafficking.
Amelia Marquez, Democrat
Running for Legislature in Montana District 52
Amelia Marquez, who is running for a seat in the Montana legislature, could be the first openly trans person elected to that position. She’s prioritizing Medicaid expansion, infrastructure development, and raising the minimum wage. And she’s thrilled with the influx of female politicians this cycle.
“Growing up in Montana, I didn't have many women of color as my role models,” Marquez admits. “Alexandria [Ocasio-Cortez] has changed my world and I hope to work with her in my future. Of course, Danica Roem has paved the way for trans individuals everywhere who wanted to jump into politics but were afraid to. I also look to bell hooks, Senator Bernie Sanders, Emma Watson, and right up there with everyone else, my parents. My dad came to America from Mexico when he was 17 and my mom paid the bills for our six-kid family while I was growing up. They are my forever heroes.”
A dedicated fan of Dr. Who, she chose the name Amelia because of Dr. Who’s Amelia Pond. “I mean, there are some good companions on Doctor Who, and Bill from this last season was pretty great, but Amelia was epic in my book,” she confesses. “I am a pretty excited ‘Whovian’ to see what this next season will bring with our first woman Doctor.”
Kathleen Williams, Democrat
Running for Congress (Montana has just one U.S. House seat)
If Kathleen Williams wins her race, she will be the first woman elected to congress from Montana since the 1940s—and the second the state has ever sent. In her campaign, she’s prioritizing healthcare, economic opportunity, education, the environment, and, as she puts it on her campaign site, “Return[ing] Civil Dialogue, Integrity, and States(wo)manship to a Broken Congress.” Her concerns are also far from academic: As a girl, she cared for her mother through early-onset Alzheimer’s, and saw first-hand how crucial it is to have health insurance and high-quality care.
Kara Eastman and Jessica McClure, Democrats
Running for Congress in Nebraska's 2nd and 1st Districts
Nebraska has sent just one woman to the U.S. House of Representatives in the state’s history, and its current representatives are all men. Kara Eastman, running in Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district, and Jessica McClure, running in the 1st, would each break up that all-male House delegation. Eastman is a solid progressive force in her state: She started a local children’s health nonprofit and as a candidate champions Medicare-for-all, a more robust social safety net, and common-sense gun control. She’s trailing her opponent in the polls, but not by much—making election-watchers hopeful that Eastman could pull out a victory in her Omaha district.
Jacky Rosen, Democrat
Running for Senate
Nevada itself may make history this year, thanks to the huge number of women running: It could be the first state to have a majority-female statehouse. But all eyes are on Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, who just three years ago was the president of a Southern Nevada synagogue. She's running for Senate in a tight race against Senator Dean Heller, who hasn’t lost an election his nearly three-decade political career. "President Trump is leaving the middle class stranded while his super-wealthy buddies turn the federal government into a source of enrichment for themselves," Rosen says. "Trump ridicules women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrant families, and anyone who challenges him." Rosen says she will have "the backbone" to oppose President Trump’s agenda if she is elected.
Melanie Levesque, Democrat
Running for Senate
New Hampshire made history by sending the first all-female delegation to Congress; this year, though, a male legislator will take the state’s 1st congressional district. But at the state level, Melanie Levesque could be New Hampshire’s first African-American state senator. “I wear many hats,” says Levesque. “I am a wife, mother, small business owner, and volunteer in my community. I am a woman of color who understands what it is like to be a minority. I bring many different perspectives to the table, but mostly the ability to listen, empathize and find common ground with the people I meet.” Her highest priority is education, which she credits as life-changing—something she saw in her own family after her mother died when Levesque was just 18, leaving her the guardian of two younger siblings. All of them are now accomplished adults. “Our lives are an example of how you can be successful despite adversity,” she says. “My mother taught us to value education, community, and to be independent.”
Safiya Wazir, Democrat
Running for Legislature of Merrimack 17
Safiya Wazir, who came to the United States in 2007 as a refugee from Afghanistan, may be the first Afghan refugee in the state house. "Strong families are at the core of a strong educational foundation and a fruitful workforce and economy," Wazir states. "It is my core belief."
Mikie Sherrill, Democrat
Running for Congress in New Jersey's 11th District
Mikie Sherrill was a Navy helicopter pilot and a federal prosecutor—she knows how to stand tough and get things done. Now, she’s running for Congress in New Jersey, seeking to flip a red district blue as part of the pink wave of female candidates this year.
Deb Haaland, Democrat
Running for Congress in New Mexico's 1st District
Deb Haaland, running for Congress in New Mexico, could be the nation’s first Native American congresswoman. “We need to have a government that reflects its country,” says Haaland. “We’ve never had a voice like mine in Congress—I think it’s time we change that. I’m not the only candidate who’s set to be a ‘first’—there are so many across the country. This election year will be historic. We will hopefully have fierce voices on issues that matter to our communities, from climate change to a strong public education system. I know what it’s like to search for accessible and affordable health care, to live on food stamps, [to] need to put back food at the checkout counter, and to be drowning in student loans. We need people who’ve had these experiences represent us.” Her top priorities including tackling climate change, turning universal healthcare into national policy, and getting dark money out of elections. And if that doesn’t speak to you deeply enough, her culinary skills might—Haaland is talented enough to have started her own salsa company, Pueblo Salsa.
Xochitl Torres Small, Democrat
Running for Congress in New Mexico's 2nd District
Xochitl Torres Small, an attorney who has worked on conservation issues and volunteers with homeless communities, would be the first woman to represent her district (New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District) in Congress.
Michelle Lujan Grisham, Democrat
Running for Governor
Michelle Lujan Grisham has a shot at flipping New Mexico’s top executive seat from red to blue—making her state the first to have two female governors in a row, and making Grisham the nation’s first Democratic Latina governor.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez , Democrat
Running for Congress in New York's 14th District
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shot to stardom when she won a surprise upset victory in the Democratic primary in her New York district. If she wins in November—and she is strongly favored to—she will be the first woman in her 20s elected to Congress. And she’s got company—several under-30 women are running this year, and many say they’ve been inspired by her rise.
Marcia Morgan, Democrat
Running for Legislature in North Carolina's District 19
Marcia Morgan is a retired army colonel, an educator, and is shooting to be the first LGBT veteran in the North Carolina state house. Her motivation, she says, is service to her country—something she did in the military and as an educator, and that she now hopes to continue in elected office. She advocates for taking better care of the environment, investing in education, strengthening the economy, and promoting equality for all.
Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat
Running for Senate
Heidi Heitkamp was the first woman North Dakota sent to the Senate. Despite facing a tough reelection against a male Republican challenger, Heitkamp boldly voted against confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court—a move that, according to her family members, was less about political strategy and more about being able to look at herself in the mirror every morning.
When her opponent said that #MeToo had gone too far and is a “movement toward victimization” that the “tough people” of North Dakota, including his own wife and mother, don’t understand, Heitkamp clapped back. “I think it’s wonderful that his wife has never had an experience, and good for her, and it’s wonderful his mom hasn’t,” she told the New York Times. “My mom did. And I think it affected my mom her whole life. And it didn’t make her less strong.” Near tears, she added, “And I want you to put this in there, it did not make my mom less strong that she was a victim. She got stronger and she made us strong. And to suggest that this movement doesn’t make women strong and stronger is really unfortunate.”
Dr. Vanessa Enoch, Democrat
Running for Congress in Ohio's 8th District
Dr. Vanessa Enoch (“Doc Enoch”) is running in a heavily Republican district, but she’s not letting those long odds stop her. Enoch has long worked for criminal justice reform, seeking to make the system less biased and more efficient. She’s also a small business owner, and has been recognized for her criminal justice reporting.
Kendra Horn, Democrat
Running for Congress in Oklahoma's 5th District
As the founder of Oklahoma Women Lead, Kendra Horn has made a career out of encouraging women to throw their hats in the ring and run for office. Now, she’s taking her own advice and running for Congress in a district that has been Republican-led since the 1970s.
Jo Ann Hardesty and Loretta Smith, Democrats
Running against each other for Portland City Council
This year, the Portland City Council will finally have an African-American councilwoman. Jo Ann Hardesty and Loretta Smith are both running for a seat on a council that has long been largely white. “I know this city, and I’ve seen how it has changed, and not always for the good,” says Smith, whose family has been in Portland for five generations. “Gentrification and urban renewal have pushed low-income and people of color out of the inner city, out to the outer edges. While we have economic prosperity, not everyone is living it. I have lived experiences that will help me address these issues.”
Kristin Seale, Democrat
Running for Legislature in Pennsylvania's District 168
Kristin Seale lives in a majority-female district, but the district has never been represented by a woman. So she decided to change that. If she wins her race in Pennsylvania House of Representatives District 168, the DSA-supported candidate will make history in her state, both as the first woman and the first out queer woman in the Pennsylvania legislature. And she’s particularly engaged in the specific issues impacting her community.
“My first priority is protecting my community from the hazardous, highly combustible natural gas liquids Mariner East 2 pipeline that Sunoco/ Energy Transfer Partners (the people that are responsible for DAPL) is running next to schools and daycares and under senior housing, damaging our water table and ecosystems in local tributaries, ruining my neighbors’ property values and putting our community and first responders at risk,” Seale explains.
Also on the agenda: Civil rights and liberties; workplace protections and labor rights; Medicare for all; public education; and reproductive rights. That may sound like a long list, but if anyone has the energy for it, it’s Seale. “In my 20s I was a semi-pro boxer and in my 30s I started Baltimore's first women's roller derby league, and ultimately helped found the national governing body for the sport, the WFTDA,” Seale reveals. “I love contact sports!” Sounds like she may have quite a future in politics.
Susan Wild, Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan, Mary Gay Scanlon, Bibiana Boero, Susan Boser, Pearl Kim, Jessica King, Democrats
Running for Congress
Pennsylvania’s entire Congressional delegation—its senators and its representatives—are all men, and nearly all of them are white. Seven women running for Congress this year could break up that male monopoly: Susan Wild, Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan, Mary Gay Scanlon, Bibiana Boero, Susan Boser, Pearl Kim, and Jessica King each stand a chance to diversify the state’s representation.
Gina Raimondo and Nellie Gorbea, Democrats
Running for Governor and Secretary of State
Two barrier-breaking women are running for reelection in Rhode Island: Governor Gina Raimondo, the state’s first female governor, and Nellie Gorbea, the first Hispanic elected to statewide office in New England. Raimondo is leading over her Republican challenger, Allan Fung, but the race is far from a guarantee. While Fung claims to be pro-choice, he was also endorsed by the state’s Right to Life Committee; Raimondo, by contrast, has a solid pro-choice record and is backed by women’s rights groups.
Mary Geren, Democrat
Running for Congress in South Carolina's 3rd District
A win for Mary Geren, who is running for Congress, would break up South Carolina’s current all-male delegation congressional delegation. Geren grew up in a rural part of the state, the youngest of seven children in a family that often relied on food stamps to get by. “People always ask me, ‘How did you get out of that?’” Geren told the Intercept. “Education, and that’s why I’m so passionate about it. And public education in particular—I say on the trail all the time that it saved my life and I believe that.”
Kristi Lynn Noem, Republican
Running for Governor
Kristi Lynn Noem could be the first female governor of South Dakota—but that may not be much for feminists to cheer. She’s anti-abortion and anti-same sex marriage, and has enjoyed the support of President Trump in her campaign.
Erika Stotts Pearson, Democrat
Running for Congress in Tennessee's 8th District
If Erika Stotts Pearson had an unofficial motto for her campaign, it might be this: "You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines. You make progress by getting in the race and implementing ideas.” That quote, she says, “sums up why I am running for Congress. I want to inspire people—especially women—to work hard and work together, because our goal is to bring opportunities back to our communities. There has never been a time better than now. Women want our voices at the table.” Inspired by Shirley Chisholm—“she dared to be President at a time when Black girls could not dream,” Pearson says—Pearson could be the first black woman Tennessee has sent to Congress. “We all have a voice to contribute to democracy,” Pearson says. And she hopes to do it for Tennessee’s 8th congressional district.
Andrea Bond-Johnson, Democrat
Running for Legislature in Tennessee District 82
Andrea Bond-Johnson puts healthcare first, both as a health insurance provider who has observed the devastation that comes from being un- or under-insured, and as a breast cancer survivor herself. She could be the first black woman to represent her district (House District 82) in the state legislature. “I bring my experiences as a rural southern woman who is also an African American business owner, wife, and mother,” Bond-Johnson explains. “These descriptors mean I also bring listening skills, innovation, and a spirit of collaboration. I transform patience into an action verb and understand failure is not an option. We need more women to help shape legislation because men are making important decisions for and about women. As a wife, mom and business owner, I can relate to issues concerning our issues because I live it.”
Hana Ali, Democrat
Running for Legislator in Tennessee District 45
“If someone had told me back then when I landed at JFK that in two decades you'll be running for office, I would have laughed,” admits Hana Ali, who could be the first Muslim woman in the Tennessee house (she’s running in District 45). “Running for office is a patriotic calling that is rooted in deep sense of community service. As a successful immigrant, a minority business owner, entrepreneur, and healthcare professional with two young children, I have been blessed to live this American Dream. This November, the American Dream is on the ballot. I am running to keep it alive and accessible for our future generations.” Fluent in five languages and listing Fatima Jinnah and Nelson Mandela as her political heroes, Ali is prioritizing public education, lowering health care costs, and helping the middle class to thrive.
Jean-Marie Lawrence, Democrat
Running for Legislature in Tennessee District 62
“I have been lucky to grow up in a time where people with disabilities have civil rights, and I’m very grateful for the advocates and activists who came before me and fought for legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act,” says Jean-Marie Lawrence, who could be the first woman with a (visible) disability to serve in the state legislature and the first openly pansexual person. “But these rights don’t make us immune to discrimination, and I have experienced enough to know there is so much more to be done.”
On her list, if she wins: Healthcare (including expanding Medicaid); an increased minimum wage and more generous social welfare programs; and investing in public schools and teachers. “Tennessee is filled with people of different races, colors, religions, gender identities, sexual orientations, disabilities, ages, cultures,” she says. “It's a state filled with beauty and diversity. But that diversity doesn't yet fully translate to our government. In order for government to be representative of and serve the people, it needs to reflect the diversity of the people.”
Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, Democrats
Running for Congress in Texas' 16th and 6th Districts
Texas, a state with more than 11 million Hispanic residents (nearly 40 percent of the population), has never sent a Latina to Congress. That could be about to change if either Veronica Escobar or Sylvia Garcia win their Congressional races this year.
Gina Ortiz Jones, Democrat
Running for Congress in Texas' 23rd District
Gina Ortiz Jones may also make Texas history as the potential first openly lesbian veteran in Congress, as well as the first Filipina-American. “Talent is universal, but opportunity is not,” says Jones, who was raised by a single mom in San Antonio. “I've seen it, and I've lived it. My country invested in me, my community invested in me, and I’m running because we have to do all we can to protect the opportunities that allow kids from all backgrounds to grow up healthy, get an education, and serve our country.”
Jones credits the subsidized housing and reduced lunch she relied on as a child with her ability to earn an Air Force ROTC scholarship and attend college. She also served in Iraq as an intelligence officer—while the American government had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for LGBT service members. “My mother raised my younger sister and me by herself,” Jones says. “She sacrificed and worked multiple jobs so that we could have a good life, and she is a true example of hard work, grit, and the American Dream. She is the person who first taught me how special our country truly is. She reminded my sister and me every day that we were lucky—not smart, but lucky—to be born here, and that it was our responsibility to give back.”
Lupe Valdez, Democrat
Running for Governor
Lupe Valdez has spent her life being a barrier-breaker. The youngest of eight children, she was the first Latina sheriff of Dallas County, and is now the first openly gay and first Latina candidate for Texas governor. “The American Promise is that you go to school, work hard, and retire with dignity,” says Valdez. “You shouldn’t have to win the lottery or be a CEO to live the American Dream. I’m running for Governor because I know what it is like to work two jobs to go to college, I know what it’s like to not have healthcare, and I know what it is like to have to make hard choices. I may have been the first in many things, but I am running so I am not the last. I’m running so that everyone in Texas has a fair shot and opportunity just like I did.” Education, health care and the economy, she says, are her top priorities, and what she believes can make all the difference in achieving the American dream.
Jenny Wilson, Democrat
Running for Senate
“Utah's stale, 6-0, all-Republican delegation does not accurately reflect our communities, and my opponent Mitt Romney would be more of the same,” explains Jenny Wilson, who could be the first female U.S. senator elected from Utah. Wilson already broke ground as the first woman on the Salt Lake County Council, and says she hopes “to be a fresh voice on behalf of our state” in a staid Congress. "Congress is in desperate need of new faces that represent their constituents, not lobbyists and special interests,” Wilson says. “Air quality is an enormous concern in Utah. So is the opioid crisis and expanding healthcare coverage while stabilizing the cost to families. I’m also committed to protecting Utah’s public lands, national treasures that support rural Utah's economy and belong to all of us."
Christine Hallquist, Democrat
Running for Governor
Like a lot of women, Christine Hallquist had an awakening last year. But it wasn’t only from Trump, or the Women’s March; it came from seeing the slam poetry group Muslim Girls Making Change perform. “Listening to these high school students discuss the harassment they faced on a daily basis in the same Vermont that I had always found so welcoming, even after my transition when I expected to face ostracization and hate, was the moment I realized I had a moral obligation to do my utmost to make sure Vermont welcomed and supported everyone in the way it had for me,” says Hallquist, who could be the first transgender governor in the nation.
She has already made history as the first transgender person nominated for governor by a major party; if she wins, she’ll be just the second female governor Vermont has ever had. “For far too long we have been represented by those who understand the experiences of the most privileged—people who have never had to rely on SNAP to feed their children, or had to face racism on a daily basis, or had to hide parts of themselves to keep their job and housing,” she says. “It’s impossible to govern effectively if these perspectives aren’t seen or heard. Diverse individuals bring diverse leadership styles which are critical to governing effectively and innovatively.” That innovative thinking shines through in her policy priorities, which start with broadband internet—many areas of rural Vermont still lack internet connectivity, stymying growth and opportunity. Universal primary care is also on her to-do list, as are paid family and medical leave, raising the minimum wage, and improving the public education system. “These proposals aren’t radical,” she says. “They are some of the fundamentals any civilized society should provide its citizens—but we haven’t developed there yet.”
Jennifer Wexton, Vangie Williams, Elaine Luria, Leslie Cockburn, Jennifer Lewis, Abigail Spanberger, Democrats
Running for Congress in Virginia's 10th, 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th Districts
Virginia has just a single congresswoman in Washington—Barbara Comstock, who says Roe v. Wade should be overturned and has an A rating from the NRA (which also gives her a lot of money). Six Democratic women are seeking to change that, including Jennifer Wexton, the state senator who is running against Comstock in Virginia’s 10th congressional district. Vangie Williams, Elaine Luria, Leslie Cockburn (an accomplished journalist who is also Olivia Wilde’s mom), Jennifer Lewis, and Abigail Spanberger are running as well, and each could be the state’s only woman (or only Democratic woman) in the House.
Dr. Kim Schrier, Democrat
Running for Congress in Washington's 8th District
Dr. Kim Schrier is running in Washington’s 8th congressional district against Republican Dino Rossi. If she wins, Schrier, a pediatrician, will be the only female doctor in Congress. The seat she’s running for was once considered safely Republican, but Schrier has changed the game and now runs a competitive race—so competitive that her party is pouring money into it, and hoping to turn a once-red seat blue.
Kendra Fershee and Talley Sergent, Democrats
Running for Congress in West Virginia's 1st and 2nd Districts
West Virginia has a single female senator—the only one in its history—currently in office (that would be Republican Shelly Moore Capito), but zero women in the House. A win from Kendra Fershee or Talley Sergent would break up that all-male House delegation. Fershee is very progressive on healthcare, pushing for a universal model that would go beyond what the ACA currently offers. Talley Sergent is focused on combating her state’s addiction crisis—her own sister has struggled with addiction, and Sergent has seen first-hand just how inadequate resources are for people who seek help.
Margaret Engebretson, Democrat
Running for Congress in Wisconsin's 7th District
Margaret Engebretson spent 24 years in the military, and now she’s battling to be the first out lesbian to represent Wisconsin’s 7th congressional district. Engebretson also worked as a union railroad locomotive electrician and train dispatcher; she then made her way to law school, and as a lawyer advocated for children and adults with disabilities. Service, in other words, has been the animating force of her career, and what finally pushed her to run for office.
“The 2016 presidential election left me extremely concerned for the future of our democracy,” she admits. “Having served my country in the military, I felt a sense of duty and obligation to step forward as a candidate for Congress to offer what skills and abilities I have to defend our democracy and to make sure that people have an advocate in Washington who will fight for them every single day.”
Shelia Stubbs, Democrat
Running for Legislature for Wisconsin District 77
Shelia Stubbs wants to increase education funding, reform the criminal justice system, advocate for women’s rights, protect the environment, strengthen the social welfare net, decrease gun violence, and expand health care access—and she wants to be the first black woman elected to the state legislature from Madison, Wisconsin.
Mary Throne, Democrat
Running for Governor
Nellie Ross became governor of Wyoming via special election in 1925, after her husband died in office. The state hasn’t had a female executive since. Mary Throne wants to change that. She’s running on a platform of improving health care and education while investing in energy and environmental protection. And she knows from experience how tough these issues are for average Americans—she’s a breast cancer survivor herself. Throne says she wants to end the boom/bust cycle of Wyoming’s economy by striking a balance between taking advantage of the state’s energy resources, while avoiding being held hostage to market fluctuations through investments in renewables.