Democratic Women Who Made History in 2018 Step into New Leadership Roles
The Democrats in the class of 2018, the largest House freshman class since the Watergate era, included the first Muslim women and Native American women ever elected to Congress, the first woman to represent Oklahoma, the first Black women to represent Massachusetts and Connecticut, four new out LGBTQ+ members, and the youngest woman elected to Congress. They had backgrounds in the military and national security, in medicine, in law and government, in organizing.
Of the 35 Democratic women first elected in 2018, 25 ran for and won reelection in 2020 and 2022. And as Democrats prepare to enter the House minority in January under new leaders, many of those women are now stepping up into increasingly powerful leadership positions and are poised to exert more influence than ever before on the future of their party.
“I am somewhat biased, but I do believe that the class of 2018 was a pretty extraordinary class,” said Rep. Veronica Escobar, who was one of the first two Latinas elected to Congress from Texas that year.
Escobar — along with Reps. Joe Neguse of Colorado, Lauren Underwood of Illinois and Dean Phillips of Minnesota, all first elected in 2018 — will lead the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), House Democrats’ main messaging and communications arm. Underwood is also the first Black woman elected by her colleagues to serve in House Democratic leadership since Rep. Shirley Chisholm in 1977.
“We’ve got to bring people together, and I think that will be a critical role for us,” Escobar said of the DPCC leadership. “And I think, knowing Joe and Dean and Lauren as well as I do, we are all very good listeners — but we’re also very hard workers.”
Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas, one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, was recently selected to serve on House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark’s leadership team as a chief deputy whip.
And Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia will step into a leadership role new to her and the caucus. Spanberger, who flipped a GOP seat in 2018 and has defended it in two subsequent close races, will represent the interests of caucus members from competitive districts.