A look at the women, minorities set to bring diversity to Capitol Hill

More diverse faces headed to Capitol Hill following Tuesday’s midterm elections

New York Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks with reporters after voting, Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018, in the Parkchester community of the Bronx, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

A look at some of the more diverse faces headed to Capitol Hill following Tuesday’s midterm elections in the United States:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, is Latina and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She crushed Republican challenger Anthony Pappas in their battle for a House seat in New York following her decisive upset primary win earlier this year over incumbent Democrat Jow Crowley.

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Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, carried the Democrat flag in a New Mexico district to become one of the first two Indigenous women ever elected to Congress. The other is Democrat Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and former mixed martial arts fighter, who bested four-term Republican incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, an Ecuadorian immigrant in Florida, narrowly defeated Republican rival Carlos Curbelo for a House seat by capitalizing on her opponent’s pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She also described a spartan childhood as a recent arrival in the U.S., working her way through high school while her mother worked two jobs and studied English on the weekends.

Jared Polis, previously a Colorado member of the House of Representatives, became the first openly gay man to be elected a U.S. governor, defeating Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton. “Take that, Mike Pence,” Polis enthused in his victory speech Tuesday night, a reference to the vice-president’s ardent opposition to gay rights. Polis joins Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who identifies as bisexual and was re-elected Tuesday as America’s first openly LGBT governor.

Rashida Tlaib, born in Detroit to Palestinian parents, became one of two Muslim women elected to Congress for the first time when she cruised to an easy House victory in Michigan, claiming more than 88 per cent of the vote. She joins Ilhan Omar from Somalia, who bested Republican challenger Jennifer Zielinski in Minnesota’s 5th district. “Congratulations to my sister Rashida Tlaib on your victory,” Omar tweeted. “I cannot wait to serve with you, inshallah.”

RELATED: Democrats come on strong in House races, but Republicans make Senate inroads

Young Kim, a Republican, became the first-ever Korean-American woman to be elected to Congress after a narrow battle with Democratic challenger Gil Cisneros in California’s 39th congressional district.

Prosecutor and state senator Jennifer Wexton, 50, a mother of two, led a charge of female Democrat candidates, unseating Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock in a pivotal Virginia district by playing up her opponent’s voting record as evidence of an alliance with Donald Trump. Nearby, Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA operative, upset Republican Rep. Dave Brat.

Republican Marsha Blackburn, an unabashed conservative and ally of Donald Trump, became Tennessee’s first-ever female senator, defeating former governor Phil Bredesen. And Arizona was electing its first female senator, although it wasn’t quite clear Wednesday who it would be: former fighter pilot Martha McSally, a Republican, was clinging to a 16,000-vote lead over Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who is openly bisexual.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

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