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The first black woman governor in the United States. The first lesbian serving in Congress from Texas. The first Democratic woman representing Kentucky in the House. All of these scenarios moved closer to reality Tuesday night following a round of primary elections in red states.
While women in general did not score resounding wins across the board in the latest round of primaries ahead of the midterm elections, several candidates have a chance to make history in November. Of course, some of them face uphill battles as Democrats running in red areas or facing incumbents.
More women than ever before are running for office in this year’s midterm elections, increasing the chances of the gender divide and diversity in both federal and state governments better reflecting the broader population. Already, the number of women running for House seats and governor’s offices has shattered previous records, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
Early primary elections suggest the number of women in Congress could rise after November. Following primary elections last week, several women appear to be favored to win House seats in Pennsylvania, a state currently represented entirely by men in Congress.
More women set themselves up to take a run at making history following Tuesday’s primaries in multiple red states. Ten out of 17 women running for statewide elected executive offices, or just under 60 percent, won their nominations, according to Gender Watch 2018, a nonpartisan project tracking women in the midterms.
Out of 61 House nominations decided Tuesday, women won 12 of them, or about 20 percent. The figure falls in line with the proportion of women in Congress overall.
In Texas, women won Democratic nominations to challenge incumbents in two competitive districts — the 7th and 23rd Districts. Men secured Democratic primary runoff wins over women in two other seats on the party’s radar: the 21st and 32nd Districts.
Texas is also the home of two female candidates would could end up making history this year. Here are some of the women who have a chance to achieve electoral firsts in November:
In winning Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday with a resounding three-quarters of the vote, Stacey Abrams already became the first black woman to win a major party nomination for governor, according to Gender Watch 2018. If she wins, she will become the first black woman to serve as a U.S. governor.
“We are writing the next chapter of Georgia history, where no one is unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired,” she told supporters Tuesday, according to NBC News.
She will face either Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle or Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who head to a primary runoff in July. Incumbent GOP Gov. Nathan Deal is term limited.
Abrams, 44, previously served as the minority leader in Georgia’s Statehouse. She faces a challenge in turning the state blue. A Democrat has not won a statewide election for governor or senator in Georgia since about the turn of the new millennium.
Lupe Valdez, a former sheriff, won the Democratic primary for Texas governor on Tuesday. She becomes the first openly gay person and Hispanic woman to win a major party’s nomination for governor of Texas, the second-most populous state behind California.
The 70-year-old Valdez, who served as Dallas County sheriff, will face Greg Abbott, a well-known and generally popular Republican incumbent. He won his last election bid in 2014 by more than 20 percentage points.
Like Georgia, Texas has also trended less Republican in recent years amid demographic changes. Trump won it by 9 percentage points, compared with a roughly 16 percentage point victory for Romney in 2012.
Valdez on Tuesday night said she did not want to hear about “uphill battles” because she has fought them all her life, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Gina Ortiz Jones, an Air Force veteran and former Obama administration official, easily won the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. If she beats incumbent GOP Rep. Will Hurd in November, she would become the first lesbian and Filipina-American to represent Texas in Congress.
Ortiz Jones, 37, appears ready to give Hurd a serious challenge. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voter Index, which gauges how districts voted in recent presidential elections, rates the 23rd District as an “R+1” area.
Cook lists the race in the “lean Republican” category, while another nonpartisan analysis site Sabato’s Crystal Ball considers it a “toss-up.” The enormous district stretches from the suburbs of San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso on the western edge of Texas.
Ortiz Jones previously told CNBC she sees the race as a matter of “protecting opportunities” for people in the district.
Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot who won the Democratic primary for Kentucky’s 6th District, hopes to become the first woman from her party to represent the state in Congress. She will challenge GOP Rep. Andy Barr.
Cook rates the district, which includes Lexington and the areas surrounding it, as an “R+9” region. Both Cook and Sabato’s Crystal Ball list it as a race that leans Republican.