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Politics

Jones Wins, to Be Among 1st Openly Gay Black Men in House

November 4, 2020

NEW YORK — Democrat Mondaire Jones won election in New York City's northern suburbs, setting him up to become among the first openly gay Black men to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Jones, 33, a Harvard-trained lawyer, defeated Republican Maureen McArdle Schulman in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey in a district that includes all of Rockland county and part of Westchester County.

His victory, declared Wednesday by The Associated Press, comes on top of the election of another young, gay, Black Democrat on Tuesday. Ritchie Torres, a 32-year-old New York City Council member who identifies as Afro-Latino, won in a district in the Bronx.

LGBTQ activists hailed the victories as a double milestone.

"Mondaire and Ritchie have shattered a rainbow ceiling and will bring unique perspectives based on lived experiences never before represented in the U.S. Congress," said former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

Openly gay white people have served in Congress since the 1980s, as well as at least one Black member of Congress who chose not to speak publicly about her sexuality, the late U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan, of Texas.

Many other closely contested races for Congress and the state legislature remained undecided Wednesday.

More than 1.2 million absentee ballots were cast by mail in the state's election. The process of counting those absentee ballots could take several weeks in some races, and isn't set to start for several days.

In other congressional races, several Democratic incumbents were trying to fend off Republican challengers.

On Staten Island, Republican Nicole Malliotakis had a substantial lead over Democratic U.S. Rep. Max Rose. Malliotakis declared victory a little over an hour after polls closed, but The Associated Press has not yet called a winner in the race. Rose said it was too early to declare a winner.

In central New York, former Republican U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney also had a lead over U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, the Democrat who ousted her from office in 2018. The large number of absentee ballots cast in New York also made that contest among those too difficult to call.

Democrats were close to gaining a supermajority in the state Legislature, needing to pick up two seats in the Senate for that to happen.

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