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Two Democrats become first Black and openly gay Congress members

New Yorkers Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones will enter the House in January.

Ritchie Torres Mondaire Jones AP

Democratic Reps.-elect Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres made history on Tuesday (Nov. 3) by becoming the first openly gay Black men to be elected to Congress. The Democrats will enter the House in January.

Jones won the primary to replace retiring Rep. Nita Lowey in New York’s 17th District. His district spans Rockland County and parts of Westchester County. Prior to the results, Jones took to Twitter to reveal what running for Congress meant to him.

“My grandmother used to clean homes in Congers. When daycare was too expensive, she took me with her. Now I get to run to represent the same people whose homes I watched my grandmother clean growing up,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “My story, quintessentially, is that of the American Dream.”

Torres won the primary to replace retiring Rep. José Serrano in the 15th District and will represent the Bronx in Congress. Torres will be the first out Afro Latino LGBTQ+ congressperson in the U.S. He also became the first openly gay elected official from the borough when he was elected to the New York City Council in 2013 at the age of 25. He defeated New York City Council Member Rubén Diaz Sr. in June’s congressional primary. Diaz reportedly had a history of making anti-LGBTQ remarks.

“Tonight, a new era begins for the South Bronx,” Torres said in a statement after his win was announced. “It is the honor of a lifetime to represent a borough filled with essential workers who have risked their lives so that New York City could live.”

He added: “The Bronx is essential, and the vibrant, loving and talented people who live here have shown time and again their power, fortune and perseverance. The Bronx is the heartbeat of New York City.”

There were other firsts in Tuesday’s elections as well. Sarah McBride won the Delaware state Senate race on Tuesday (Nov. 3) and became the first and only openly transgender state senator in the United States. She is also now the country’s highest-ranking transgender official.

McBride defeated Republican Steve Washington to represent Delaware’s 1st Senate District. She received the endorsement from incumbent Democrat Harris McDowell who did not seek re-election after 44 years. She reacted to the news of her win on Twitter on Tuesday.

“We did it. We won the general election. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she wrote. “I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too.”

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