The Democratic tsunami didn’t quite materialize on Tuesday night. But despite the wave being more of a ripple, national Democrats had much to feel good about — as well as seven governorships and a number of state legislative seats, the party regained control of the House, effectively putting the brakes on the worst excesses of the Trump administration, including its attacks on LGBTQ rights.
However, on the Republican side, the potential bruising some expected instead offered a few unexpected results — the GOP increased their U.S. Senate majority by at least four seats, giving Trump the numbers he requires to confirm as many anti-LGBTQ federal nominees as he likes.
But blue wave or not, Tuesday did bring a notable “rainbow wave” — a movement that propelled multiple LGBTQ candidates, particularly women, to victory in states across the country.
LGBTQ representation in Congress continues to swell, driven entirely by Democrats. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the first openly lesbian person elected to Congress, romped to a double-digit re-election victory in Wisconsin — a state won by President Trump just two years ago — while openly gay incumbent U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (Wis.), David Cicilline (R.I.), Mark Takano (Calif.) and Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.) were all re-elected to the House.
Joining them in the House are four newcomers: Chris Pappas of New Hampshire; Katie Hill in California; Angie Craig, a second-time candidate who ousted Rep. Jason Lewis in Minnesota; and Sharice Davids of Kansas, who makes history as the first LGBTQ Native American woman elected to Congress.
“The Rainbow Wave is an historic achievement for the entire LGBTQ community,” Rep. Takano, a co-chair of Equality PAC, said in a statement. “Not only will we have a record number of LGBTQ members of Congress, we will have a record number of women LGBTQ representatives. And I am thrilled to be joined by a second LGBTQ person of color. Representation matters. And the historic number of LGBTQ members will help ensure equality for our community becomes a dream realized.”
Yet despite notable wins, LGBTQ Democrats suffered at least a dozen losses in highly partisan Congressional districts, including the much-touted Gina Ortiz Jones, a lesbian military veteran running in Texas whose race has not yet been called but who currently trails U.S. Rep. Will Hurd in a border district running from San Antonio to El Paso. Similarly, Margaret Engebretson, another veteran, fell short in a rural district that is ancestrally Democratic but where rural voters have defected to Republicans in recent electoral cycles.
Others who lost included Jamie McLeod-Skinner in Oregon; Tracy Mitrano, who ran a close race in upstate New York; Rick Neal, running in the 15th District of Ohio; and Lee Castillo, who lost in Utah. And over on the other side of the aisle, Brian Evans, the sole LGBTQ Republican running for Congress this year, was defeated by Democratic veteran Tulsi Gabbard in Hawaii’s heavily Democratic 2nd Congressional District.