These 9 Women Won Big In The Midterm Primaries & You Need To Know About Them

by Monica Hunter-Hart
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images / Charlie Neibergall/AP/REX/Shutterstock / Juan Labreche/AP/REX/Shutterstock / Russell Contreras/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Tuesday's elections marked a huge day for female candidates across the United States. Victories flooded in for women who, if elected, would represent political milestones, including the first Native American woman to join Congress and one state's first female governor. Each of these success stories is important, but nine women who won races in Tuesday's primaries have stories that you definitely don't want to miss.

Of course, the female candidates who were successful on Tuesday aren't the whole story. As The New York Times put it, "Win or lose, Tuesday’s primaries are a big deal for women." Sara Jacobs, for example, seemed unlikely to win the Democratic nomination for California's 49th district as of this writing, but regardless, her campaign still pushed important boundaries. She was running to become the youngest congresswoman in history — but another woman will now take up that mantle: Abby Finkenauer, an even younger candidate who's running for Congress in Iowa.

Many of the women who made strides in the primaries were endorsed by Emily's List, an organization that works to elect progressive and pro-choice women. "Diversity is a strategic goal as well as a just one," the group says of its objective, noting that "diversity creates better policies" because it "balance[s] the voice of power." According to Emily's List, electing more women means that more "families can benefit from the open-minded, productive contributions that women have consistently made in office."

Here are the names of women who won big on Tuesday that you need to know about.

Deb Haaland

If elected, Deb Haaland — who is a member of New Mexicos' Pueblo of Laguna tribe — would become the first-ever Native American woman to serve in Congress. She's also a single mom. Haaland supports the movement to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is not yet a mainstream Democratic position but has been taken up by many liberal candidates this year.

Abby Finkenauer

The 28-year-old Iowa Democrat would become the youngest-ever congresswoman if she can beat 63-year-old Republican Rod Blum in November. The race will be close: Their district is considered to lean slightly Democratic but is full of counties that chose Trump after voting for Obama. Abby Finkenauer's campaign has focused on her working class values, health care reform, and increasing college affordability (she often reminds Iowans that she's still paying off student loans).

Lauren Arthur

Lauren Arthur became the first Democrat to win a state Senate seat in her Missouri district in more than 10 years. Her 19-point margin of victory had some Republicans spooked, the Kansas City Star reported, because Donald Trump won her district by 5 points. It was the 42nd district that's flipped from red to blue in state races since his election, according to Huff Post. Arthur, a former middle school teacher, emphasized labor rights and investing in public schools.

Kristi Noem

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Kristi Noem has represented South Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2011, but now she's going home and vying to become her state's first female governor. Her victory on Tuesday came even after her opponent portrayed her as an "establishment" candidate too tied to D.C. Noem, a Republican, has said she supports President Trump's agenda.

Deidre DeJear

Deidre DeJear won Iowa's Democratic primary to become her party's nominee for Secretary of State. DeJear has founded a small business and a nonprofit that help foster Iowan entrepreneurialism. In her campaign, she positioned herself as a small business advocate who would work to reform Iowa's ballot-counting system to ensure its integrity. If she beats two-time incumbent Paul Pate, she'll become the first black woman to be Secretary of State in Iowa, according to Emily's List.

Mikie Sherrill

Mikie Sherrill is a New Jersey Democrat running in a long-time Republican district that is considered a tossup (though barely) in November. The New York Times editorial board endorsed Sherrill, and NowThis News called her "one of the most qualified candidates ever for Congress." Her campaign focused on her background as a Navy pilot and federal prosecutor.

Xochitl Torres Small

Xochitl Torres Small won the Democratic primary to represent New Mexico's second district in Congress. Issues of particular note for her are lowering prescription drug costs, strengthening Medicare, and reforming the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. If she wins, Torres Small will become the first woman from southern New Mexico to serve in Congress, according to Las Cruces Sun News.

Michelle Lujan Grisham

Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham is running for governor in New Mexico and wants to prioritize education and health care reform, including Medicaid buy-in. If she wins, Lujan Grisham will become the nation's first Latina Democrat governor, according to PBS (she's running to replace the first Latina Republican governor).

Cindy Axne

Cindy Axne, a small business owner, became the Democratic nominee for Iowa's third district with a campaign that emphasized creating high-paying jobs for Iowans. She said that she'd support paid family leave legislation in Congress; she's a parent and has a history of fighting for full-day kindergarten access for all kids in West Des Moines. Axne is up against David Young, who's served the district since 2014 and has already won reelection once. Axne says that her platform starkly contrasts Young's "healthcare-stripping, tax-raising agenda."

Tuesday was a triumphant night for these women, but for many, the hardest electoral battle is yet to come. Some, like Haaland, have a huge lead heading into the November midterms. But others — like Finkenauer, Sherrill, and Axne — face a tough path to victory.