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Voters elected a young, diverse group of candidates to the House in 2018. The 116th Congress, which will convene in January, will include at least 88 new House members — many of whom are women, people of color, military veterans and first-time candidates.
Nathan Gonzales, the editor and publisher of Inside Elections, met with more than 100 congressional candidates across the country over the course of the election. Gonzales and PBS NewsHour took a closer look at some of Tuesday’s winners. Here are profiles on six freshmen lawmakers headed to Washington, D.C., next year.
Republican Ross Spano fended off a tough Democratic challenge from lawyer Kristen Carlson in the race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Dennis Ross. In his campaign for the Tampa-area seat, Spano touted his conservative record as a member of Florida’s state legislature, especially in strengthening Second Amendment rights. Spano won with 53.1 percent of the vote.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez scored a stunning primary upset over 10-term Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley earlier this year, catapulting her into the national spotlight as a face of the party’s progressive wing. At 29 years old, she is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Ocasio-Cortez will represent New York’s 14th Congressional District, made up of parts of the Bronx and Queens. She easily won the general election with 78 percent of the vote.
In September, Ayanna Pressley defeated a 10-term incumbent for the Democratic nomination in Massachusetts’s 7th Congressional District. Pressley will represent parts of the city of Boston, where she has been active in local politics for close to a decade, and some surrounding cities and suburbs. She is the first black woman elected to the House from Massachusetts. Pressley ran unopposed for the House seat on Tuesday.
With 50.9 percent of the vote, Democrat Abby Finkenauer won the race for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, a swing district that includes the cities of Dubuque and Cedar Rapids. Finkenauer, who is 29 years old, beat Republican Rep. Rod Blum.
Republican Anthony Gonzalez, a former Ohio State University wide receiver and NFL player, will represent Ohio’s 16th Congressional District. Gonzalez recently returned to his home state to enter politics for the first time. He beat Democrat Susan Palmer to replace outgoing Republican Rep. Jim Renacci. (Renacci ran for the Senate but lost to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and will step down from his House seat in January). The district includes a mix of rural areas and Cleveland and Canton suburbs that have voted solidly Republican in past elections. Gonzalez won a 13-point margin.
Tess Conciatori is a politics production assistant at PBS NewsHour.
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