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More women going to Congress in 2019 than ever before, and most are Democrats

Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- A record number of women were elected to the House on Tuesday, with at least 99 -- mostly Democrats -- expected to take the oath of office in January, up from the 84 currently serving.

And that number could grow after nearly two dozen outstanding races are called in the coming days.

The new class includes the first Muslim and Native American women ever elected to Congress, the first female African-American representative from New England, and the first Latina representatives from Texas.

"I think we can have a transformative effect because a lot of us are used to breaking through barriers," New Jersey Rep.-elect Mikie Sherrill told NBC's "Morning Joe" Wednesday. "I think as women, that's what we've been doing our entire career. And so to go somewhere and to have that challenge before us is not daunting. It's sort of par for the course."

The results follow a record-setting year with more than 250 female candidates running nationwide for state legislative races, governorships and national office. Many were first-time candidates who said they were inspired to run in reaction to both the loss of Hillary Clinton, the first major party female candidate for president, and to President Donald Trump's election. Trump is increasingly unpopular with women.

Female candidates also set a record in the Senate, where 24 women are expected to serve beginning in January, one more than the current 23.

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Male Republican candidates defeated Democrats Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota.

But in Tennessee, Republican Marsha Blackburn was elected to replace a male colleague Sen. Bob Corker, and regardless of the final result in Arizona -- where the race is too close to call -- a woman will be the next senator. It is the first time either state will be represented by a woman.

Democrats also elected a new female senator in Nevada, where Jacky Rosen beat incumbent GOP Sen. Dean Heller.

Even with the new higher numbers, overall female representation in Congress is still far below the 52 percent of the population women make up. But it has steadily increased over the past five decades.

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