Ah, summer. We’ve loved these hot days filled with sun and sky, sand and sea, cool drinks and long walks in the freezer aisle. And, of course, politics.
Yes, Election Day is in November, but we’ve already seen some groundbreaking political firsts this summer. So if the humidity or the tweets from the Oval Office have got you down, reading these stories about an ever-more inclusive and representative America will be as refreshing as a big hand-dipped waffle cone by the pool. Enjoy. (And remember to vote!)
Item number 1
Ben Jealous, Maryland
After winning the crowded Maryland Democratic gubernatorial primary back in June, Ben Jealous has the chance to become the first black governor in the history of Maryland. Jealous is probably best known for having been the youngest-ever president of the NAACP. He was 35 when he took that job in 2008. The Baltimore Sun named him “Marylander of the Year” in 2013 for bringing “energy, vision and focus to an organization in need of all three.” After transforming the NAACP, he’s now poised to rewrite Maryland political history.
Item number 2
Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona
Primaries were held by both parties in Arizona a few days ago to determine who will be squaring off to fill the Senate seat left open by the retiring Jeff Flake. Rep. Martha McSally won on the Republican side and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema came out on top for the Democrats. What does this mean? Well, it means that for the first time ever Arizona will have a female senator. There are 100 senators in the US Senate, two from every state. And right now a record 21 women are among them. We’re excited to see that number grow.
Item number 3
Stacey Abrams, Georgia
Stacey Abrams’ victory in the Georgia Democratic primary in May was unprecedented. First, she became the state’s first black nominee for governor. But her achievement has even greater significance than that: she is also the first black woman EVER to be a major-party nominee for governor anywhere in the United States. (That’s right: a black woman has never been elected governor in any state.) That’s one of those facts that has us celebrating her accomplishment while simultaneously shaking our heads in disbelief. We love what Stacey Abrams—a Yale graduate, business owner, novelist, and politician—has done, and we hope it can serve as both a model and inspiration for other women of color all over the US.
Item number 4
Andrew Gillum, Florida
Just this week, Andrew Gillum, the 39-year-old mayor of Tallahassee, scored an improbable, come-from-behind win in Florida. If Gillum wins the general election in November, he’ll become the first-ever black governor in the history of the Sunshine State. Not too long ago, someone who looked like Gillum, or Abrams, or Jealous would not even have been allowed to vote, and today they are vying for the highest office in their respective states. True: right now, not one state has a black governor. Not one. But that could be about to change. In fact, if you don’t mind handling even more good news, there’s a countrywide surge of black candidates running for office at all levels.
Item number 5
Christine Hallquist, Vermont
Of course, we experienced our own historic first here in Vermont. Christine Hallquist, by winning the Democratic primary earlier in August, became the nation’s first transgender candidate for governor. Hallquist had spent 12 years as the chief executive of Vermont Electric Cooperative, in the process rescuing the utility from ruin. This was her first time running for office, but she joins a wave of women and a record number of LGBTQ candidates from cost to coast. Change is coming. No—change is here. This is a powerful moment for our state and country.
This is what democracy looks like. This is what America looks like. We’re energized and inspired by these historic victories, not solely because of the individual accomplishments they represent, but because of what they mean for our big and increasingly diverse society. The more our leaders come to reflect who we really are and what we look like, the more all our voices will be heard at every level of government.
Let’s make sure all this summer excitement builds and builds as we approach the fall. Election Day is really just around the corner. Get out there and vote!