Updated Aug 21, 2018 - Politics & Policy

Meet Congress' potential history-makers in 2019

Graphic: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Graphic: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

No matter what else happens in the November elections, the next Congress is virtually guaranteed to have a slate of House members who will make history because of who they are — and add diversity to a Congress that isn't exactly known for it.

Why it matters: Many of these candidates, having won their nominations in safe districts, have a clear path to election — and their victories would help Congress look (a bit) more like America.

The "Class of 2019" Democrats:

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at age 28, would be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress (though not the youngest House member in history). She'll also be one of the first sitting members of Congress who's a dues-paying member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
  • Rashida Tlaib will be the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress. She won her primary for John Conyers' old House seat in Michigan, and she's running unopposed in the general.
  • Joe Neguse, whose parents are refugees from Eritrea, is the first Democratic African American nominee for national office in Colorado. He won his House primary for the state's 2nd district, a solidly blue district.
  • Ilhan Omar will be the first Somali-American woman to serve in Congress after she won her primary for Minnesota's 5th district. She'll also be only the second Muslim woman ever elected to Congress, next to Rashida Tlaib.
  • Debra Haaland will be the first Native American woman ever elected to Congress after winning her primary in New Mexico's 1st district.
  • Madeleine Dean will be the first woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress since 2014, breaking the state's current all-male delegation in Washington.

The "Class of 2019" Republicans:

  • Greg Pence, Vice President Mike Pence's brother, won his primary in Indiana's 6th district, which was the VP's former House seat.

Two other Republican candidates are running in more competitive races, so they're less sure to win, but their victories would be groundbreaking:

  • Young Kim, who won her House primary in California's 39th district, would be first female Korean-American ever elected to Congress.
  • Leah Vukmir, who won her primary for Senate, would be Wisconsin's first woman Republican senator in history. (She's trailing in the polls at the moment.)

By the numbers:

  • 2018 will likely be the last year women make up only 20% of Congress. And while the current class was the most racially diverse in history, 2019 is on pace to set a new record.
  • For the first time since 1790, the Census Bureau showed "an absolute decline in the nation’s white population" of more than 40,000 whites between 2015 and 2017.
  • And we are now, for the first time, "on the cusp of seeing the first minority white generation, born in 2007 and later," per the Brookings Institution.

This story has been updated to clarify that two of the Republican candidates are less likely to win.

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