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The 2018 midterms could bring historic firsts for women and people of color

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams would be the nation’s first black female governor. | Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Elections

Congress and the nation’s leadership could become much more diverse after Election Day.

There’s a flood of women, minorities and first-time candidates running for office this year, which means Congress could become much more diverse after the 2018 midterms. Right now women make up only about a fifth of Congress, which is still mostly white and mostly male.

Here’s a look at some of the newcomers who could change the makeup of Congress come November 6.

Paulette Jordan speaks during the Women's March voter registration tour. | Getty Images

Paulette Jordan could be the country’s first Native American governor and her state’s first female governor if she scores a victory over Republican Brad Little. | Getty

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First Native American governor

In Idaho, Democrat Paulette Jordan could be the country’s first Native American governor and her state’s first female governor if she scores a victory over Republican Brad Little. But the former state representative doesn’t have much of a chance: No Democrat has won the Idaho governorship since Cecil Andrus won his final term in 1990. Jordan’s opponent has been Idaho’s lieutenant governor for the past decade. We rate this race as solid Republican.

First openly transgender governor

Christine Hallquist wants to reverse the decline of rural Vermont and help solve climate change. Both tall tasks, for sure, but Hallquist says she’s already done the hardest thing she will ever do: In 2015, she publicly came out as a woman named Christine to her employees at the Vermont Electric Coop, the utility she had led for years as a man named Dave.

Hallquist is a first-time candidate who would be the country’s first openly transgender governor if she beats Gov. Phil Scott, the Republican incumbent. We rate this race as lean Republican, so it’s more likely that Scott will win — but Hallquist could still pull it off.

First black female governor

Democrat Stacey Abrams is competing in a down-to-the-wire race in Georgia against Secretary of State Brian Kemp. We rate this race as a toss-up. If Abrams is to make history as the country’s first black female governor, she’ll have to win over rural voters, who tend to be more white and conservative.

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Abrams is one of three African American gubernatorial candidates running to be firsts in their states. In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum is running in a racially-charged toss-up election against Republican Ron DeSantis in one of the hardest-fought elections of the year. And in Maryland, Democrat Ben Jealous is running against popular GOP incumbent Larry Hogan — a race we rate as likely Republican, even though Maryland has elected only three Republican governors in the past 60 years.

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First Korean American woman in Congress

Republican women could also make history in a handful of House races, including California’s 39th district where former state legislator Young Kim would be the first Korean American woman in Congress if she can hold a tough open seat for the GOP.

We rate this race as a toss-up between Kim and her opponent, Democrat Gil Cisneros. The district has gone Republican the last three elections, but in 2016 it voted for Hillary Clinton for president.

First Native American woman in Congress

Two candidates have a good shot at becoming the first Native American woman in Congress: Deb Haaland in New Mexico’s 1st District and Sharice Davids in Kansas’ 3rd District.

Deb Haaland is pictured in Albuquerque, New Mexico speaking to supporters.

Deb Haaland is running against Janice Arnold-Jones for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional district seat. If Haaland wins, she would be nation’s first Native American woman to hold a seat in the House of Representatives. | Getty

Haaland, a Democrat, will most likely win her race against Republican Janice Arnold-Jones (we rate this race as solid Democrat). Haaland voted for Hillary Clinton as a superdelegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and has been endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former President Barack Obama.

In Kansas, Davids, also a Democrat, is running against Republican Kevin Yoder. The seat has been held by Republicans for the last three election cycles, but the district swung toward Democrats in 2016, with Hillary Clinton winning it by a point. We rate this race as lean Democrat.

First female senator in multiple states

Only 30 states have had women represented in the Senate, but multiple states could see that change on Election Day. They include Tennessee, where Republican Marsha Blackburn is slightly favored to win over Democrat Phil Bredesen, and Arizona, home to a toss-up race between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally.

These 20 states have yet to elect female senators: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming.

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