The current U.S. Congress is the most diverse in the nation’s history, but 2020 could surpass it — a record number of women of color are running for seats in the House and Senate this year. A new report reveals that women of color are running for Congress in record-breaking numbers. The report, released by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, says that 267 women of color are running. CAWP has been tracking these numbers since 2004, and the 2020 numbers beat the previous known record, when 179 women of color ran during a historic election for women in 2018.
According to CAWP, there are 176 women of color running as Democrats and 91 running as Republicans. These numbers are based on how the candidates self-identify, including the categories of Asian or Pacific Islander (API), Black, Latinx, Middle Eastern or North African (MENA), Native American, and/or multiracial.
Broken down by race, the numbers include at least 130 Black candidates, 75 Latinx candidates, 41 Asian or Pacific Islander candidates, 18 Native American candidates, and 4 Middle Eastern or North African candidates.
Currently, Congress is the most diverse it’s ever been, in large part thanks to the winners of the 2018 midterm elections. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was 29 when she took office, making her the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress. Ilhan Omar was elected as the first Somali-American legislator, and she and Rashida Tlaib were the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
The CAWP report notes that many of the women running this year have the opportunity to make history too. If she wins, Democratic candidate Candace Valenzuela of Texas’ 24th Congressional District could become the first Afro-Latina member of Congress. Cori Bush, who just won the Democratic primary for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District in an upset, could be the first Black woman—and first woman of color—to represent Missouri in Congress.
Bush’s tweet about her victory explained exactly why it’s so important for Congress to be diverse: “For the Black girl in MO who has never had a representative who looks like her in Congress…I will always be your champion.”