There’s a record number of women of color running for Congress this year

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.

According to a new analysis from Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, at least 266 women of color are now major-party candidates for Congress this year. Of the 266, 162 Democrats and 86 Republicans are running for the House, and 13 Democrats and five Republicans are running for Senate.

These candidates “identify as Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, Latina, Middle Eastern or North African, Native American and/or multiracial,” according to the center’s analysis.

This year’s election builds on 2018’s groundbreaking election, when Americans elected the first Muslim women to Congress, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, as well as the country’s first Native women, Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids (shown below).

AP Photo/Colin E. Braley

Some of the women who ran in 2018 but failed to win their primaries decided to run again this year, including Cori Bush, a Ferguson activist who won her primary last week against 10-term Rep. Lacy Clay of St. Louis.

“It is historic that this year, of all the years, we’re sending a Black, working-class, single mother, who’s been fighting for Black lives since Ferguson, all the way to the halls of Congress,” she said in her victory speech, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. (Bush is shown at center below.)

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Bush is a Democrat, but women of color are running from both parties. Michelle Steel, a Korean American in California’s Orange County, is a Republican running against one-term incumbent Rep. Harley Rouda this November.

The Center for American Women and Politics announced this record number of women of color running for Congress on Aug. 5, and they had to report yet another record on Aug. 7, when a record number of women had secured nominations to the House after several states held primaries last week.

As of Aug. 7, a record 243 women had secured nominations for House seats, but with more primaries to come this month and next, the center expects that number to increase soon.

In May, 490 women had filed for House seats, which was also a record, Vox reported.

“In 2018, amidst the excitement of a record-breaking year for women candidates, we often asked whether we were in the middle of a one-time spike in candidacies driven by unique circumstances or if we were seeing the emergence of a new normal,” said CAWP director Debbie Walsh at the time in a statement.

“This is a sign that the momentum isn’t letting up.”