I spent my Tuesday evening on November 8, 2022 closely watching CNN and John King at the magic wall. As a political science major, Election Day is my Super Bowl. 2020 was my first time closely watching the election, seeing the experts report back the polling date and what that means for us. While midterms don’t seem important to many, it’s vital to our democracy. Midterms consist of voting for your House of Representatives member, possibly a senator and/or your governor. Since every member of the House and 1/3 of the Senate is up for election, these elections have the chance of altering the power balance of our government.
Election season can be a stressful and even upsetting time, especially when we don’t see the outcomes we want or need. But there’s always good changes and some progress every cycle that can give us some hope. Here are some positive changes and takeaways from this election cycle!
1. First Openly Lesbian Governors in the United States
Maura Healy (D) was elected to the governorship in Massachusetts, after previously serving as the state’s attorney general. Healey is one of the first openly lesbian governor, along with the first woman to serve as governor of Massachusetts. Healy’s running mate and future lieutenant governor is Kim Driscoll, marking the first time two women have served as governor and lieutenant governor at the same time in U.S. history. Tina Kotek (D) won the governorship in Oregon, also making her one of the first openly lesbian governors. Kotek’s victory was announced Thursday. Kotek previously served as Oregon’s speaker of the house.
2. First Black Governor in Maryland
Wes Moore (D) won the governorship in Maryland making him the first black governor of the state, and only the third black governor in U.S. history. Moore makes history tonight in something long overdue. The two other previous black governors include Deval Patrick (D-MA) and Douglas Wilder (D-VA).
3. First Female Governor in Arkansas
Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) won the gubernatorial election in Arkansas, making her the first female governor in her state. Sanders previously served as the press secretary for President Donald Trump from 2017-2019. Sanders’ father, Mike Huckabee, also served as the governor from Arkansas, from 1996 to 2007.
4. First Openly Gay Governor Wins Reelection
Jared Polis (D) is currently serving as governor of Colorado, and won reelection on Tuesday night. Polis was first elected in 2018. Polis married his partner, Marlon Reis, in 2021, making their marriage the first same-sex wedding of a sitting governor.
5. First Gen-Z Member of Congress
Maxwell Frost (D) was elected to Florida’s 10th congressional district. Frost is 25, making him the first member of congress that’s part of Gen-Z. With the average age of Congress being 58, Frost is taking on the responsibility of speaking for all young Americans. One must be 25 in order to be a member of the House of Representatives, putting Frost right on that threshold. Frost received a call from President Biden on Tuesday night after his victory was announced, and Frost tweeted “Still thinking about that ‘please hold for the President’ call last night.”
6. Vermont Approves Constitutional Amendment Protecting Abortion
Voters in Vermont approved a constitutional amendment protecting reproductive rights, including abortion. With Roe v. Wade being overturned, women’s reproductive rights have been targeted cause anxiety for many. This process in Vermont has been in the making for a while, long before Roe was struck down. In 2019, the state’s legislature passed legislation protecting the right to abortion. However, the bill had to be passed by two consecutively elected legislatures, and then also approved by a state-wide referendum. This referendum was passed Tuesday, officially making abortion constitutionally protected in Vermont.
7. Michigan Passes a Constitutional Amendment Protecting Reproductive Freedom
Prop 3 was passed in Michigan, creating a constitutional amendment guaranteeing rights to “reproductive freedom”. This includes prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care. However, lawmakers are still able to regulate abortions after the 24-week mark or after fetal viability. The amendment also does not allow the state to prosecute women for any pregnancy outcome (stillbirth, miscarriage, or otherwise).
8. First Openly LGBTQ+ Immigrant to Serve in Congress
Robert Garcia (D) was elected to California’s 42nd congressional district, being the first LGBTQ+ immigrant congressman. Garcia previously served as mayor to Long Beach, California. Garcia immigrated to the states from Peru when he was five years old.
9. First Openly Transgender Man Elected to a State Legislature
James Roesener became the first openly transgender man to win election to a state legislature. Roesener won election to New Hampshire’s 22nd state house district. Roesner is only one of eight openly transgender lawmakers in the country. This victory comes five years after Danica Roem’s victory, the first openly transgender person elected to a U.S. state legislature. Roem is currently serving her third term in Virginia.
10. Longest Serving Woman in Congress Receives Reelection
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) is currently the longest serving woman congressman, and it will remain that way after she won reelection on Tuesday. Kaptur currently serves in her state’s 9th district, and after redistricting, the map no longer was in her party’s favor. Howver, Kaptur prevailed and will enter her 21st term in January.
While you might not be affected be some, or any of these changes it still feels good to see them. Any progress is good progress, and some of this is overdue. This list is not exclusive, and there are definitely more great (and non-partisan) outcomes from election night that should be celebrated. Democracy is something we need not take for granted!
Sources and Places to Read More:
Associated Press, “Vermont Voters Approve Amendment Protecting Abortion,” U.S. News, November 9, 2022, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/vermont/articles/2022-11-08/vermont-weighs-amendment-on-abortion-reproductive-rights#:~:text=Voters%20in%20Vermont%20have%20approved,in%20the%20state%2C%20including%20abortion.&text=Nov.%209%2C%202022%2C%20at%2012%3A26%20a.m.&text=Voters%20in%20Vermont%20on%20Tuesday,in%20the%20state%2C%20including%20abortion.
Brakkton Booker, “Wes Moore Makes History as Maryland’s First Black Governor,” Politico, November 8, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/11/08/maryland-governor-results-2022-wes-moore-00065789.
Tyler Clifford, “‘Life is Wild!’, First Generation Z Member Elected to Congress,” Reuters, November 9, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/us/life-is-wild-first-generation-z-member-elected-us-congress-2022-11-09/.
Lauren Dake, “Tina Kotek is Oregon’s New Governor, Continuing Democrats’ Rule”, NPR, November 10, 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/11/10/1134206147/oregon-governor-results-drazan-kotek-johnson.
Jake Lahut, “Long-Serving Dem Marcy Kaptur Defeats QAnon Curious Candidate in Ohio,” Daily Beast, November 8, 2022, https://www.thedailybeast.com/democrat-marcy-kaptur-defeats-qanon-curious-candidate-jr-majewski-in-ohio-midterm-congressional-election.
Matt Lavietes, “Maura Healey wins Massachusetts Governor’s Race, NBC News Projects as the First Lesbian Elected to Lead a State,” NBC News, November 8, 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-politics-and-policy/massachusetts-maura-healey-rcna55236.
Caitlin O’Kane, “Sarah Huckabee Sanders Projected to Be the First Female Governor of Arkansas”, CBS News, November 9, 2022, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sarah-huckabee-sanders-projected-to-win-arkansas-gubernatorial-race/.
Andrew V. Pestano, “California’s Robert Garcia Heading to DC as First LGBTQ Immigrant to Serve in Congress,” NBC Los Angeles, November 8, 2022, https://www.nbclosangeles.com/decision-2022/californias-robert-garcia-heading-to-dc-as-first-lgbtq-immigrant-to-serve-in-us-congress/3028957/.
“Proposal 3 Passes in Michigan, Legalizing Abortion, ABC News Projects,” WXYZ Detroit, November 9, 2022, https://www.wxyz.com/news/democracy-2022/proposal-3-passes-in-michigan-legalizing-abortion-abc-news-projects.
Trudy Ring, “Colorado’s Jared Polis is the First Out Gay Man Reelected Governor,” Yahoo Finance, November 8, 2022, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/colorados-jared-polis-first-gay-025612738.html.
Rachel Treisman, “James Roesener is the First Out Transman Elected to a U.S. State Legislature,” NPR, November 9, 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/11/09/1135417129/new-hampshire-trans-lawmaker-james-roesener