A record number of Native candidates are heading to Congress after Tuesday night’s election.
Six Indigenous candidates won their House races, which means the chamber will now have the most Native lawmakers ever serving at a time.
Four of them are returning members.
Reps. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) both won their second terms. They made history in their own right in 2018, as the first two Native women ever elected to Congress. They are members of Pueblo of Laguna and Ho-Chunk Nation, respectively.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) of Chickasaw Nation also won reelection on Tuesday, as did Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) of Cherokee Nation.
New members will include Republican Yvette Herrell, who unseated Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District. It’s the second time they’ve competed for the seat; Herrell ran against Torres Small in 2018 and narrowly lost.
Herrell, a member of Cherokee Nation, previously served in the state’s House of Representatives from 2011 to 2019. President Donald Trump endorsed her in October.
“It’s the honor of my life to be elected to serve #NM02,” Herrell tweeted early Wednesday. “My commitment to each citizen of our district is that I will serve each of them with integrity as we work together to rebuild our economy and protect the values that make America great!”
The other new member is Democrat Kaiali’i “Kai” Kahele, who won his race for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. The seat was vacated by former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who launched an unsuccessful bid for president.
Kahele is only the second Native Hawaiian to represent Hawaii in Congress since it became a state in 1959. The first was the late Sen. Daniel Akaka (D).
Kahele has served in the Hawaii Senate since 2016.
“Mahalo Hawai’i! Words cannot express my deep appreciation to everyone who has believed in our campaign, supported us, voted, & donated!” Kahele tweeted early Wednesday. “Our challenging work begins now, and I’ll do everything I can to bring our state the resources we need to recover and build a resilient Hawai’i.”
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