Yes, the nation’s attention remains fixated on the Presidential election — and ongoing vote counting — but there were some historic wins further down the ballot that deserve a media shout-out.
These victories by non-traditional candidates in surprising places around the country provide some much-needed encouragement for the nation and future generations.
1. Sarah McBride
McBride, of Wilmington, Delaware, became the highest-ranking, openly transgender individual in the nation with last night’s state Senate win. She will also be the first openly trans person to occupy any state Senate seat in the nation. She found her way into the national spotlight after speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention — she was also the first openly trans person to do so. With this win, she joins other trans history makers like Virginia state delegate Danica Roem and New Hampshire state representatives Lisa Bunker and Gerri Cannon.
2. Cori Bush
Missouri will have its first-ever Black congresswoman with Bush’s (significant) victory. Prior to her election, Bush was a nurse and Black Lives Matter activist who became involved with the movement following the 2014 murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri, police. “This is definitely a night to remember,” Bush said in her acceptance speech. “This has been a historic day from the beginning to the end.”
3. Kim Jackson
Residents in the Peach State also elected an historic representative in Jackson — she’s the first member of the state’s Senate who is also openly a member of the LGBTQ community. It’s especially notable for a Black person to achieve this, as there are only 13 state legislators throughout the country who exist at that intersection of identities. This was a first bid for elected office for Jackson, who is also an Episcopal priest.
4. Mauree Turner
Oklahoma’s state House of Representatives now has its first nonbinary member. It’s not just a state record, though — Turner is the first nonbinary individual ever elected to a state office anywhere in the United States. They will also make Oklahoma history as its first Muslim represenatative. Before their win, Turner was a regional field director for an ACLU campaign for criminal justice reform.
5. Hilary Franz
The woman who literally told the federal government that “we didn’t invite you here, and we don’t want you here” over Trump’s offshore drilling plan has won re-election in the Pacific Northwest. Franz snagged a victory in her re-election bid for Commissioner of Public Lands — and by roughly 19 percentage points. The Washington state office oversees about 6 million acres of its forest, agricultural and aquatics lands. Her campaign had heavily emphasized her long-term strategic plans for wildfire management and forest health rehabilitation, a savvy call following an especially grueling 2020 wildfire season.
Note: This article has been updated since publication. It was edited to correct Mauree Turner’s pronouns.