The NCSL Blog


By Michael Quillen

While most Americans were glued to the presidential race between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, history was being made down the ballot with several noteworthy firsts.

2020 State Elections logoNew York elected the country’s first Black member of Congress who identifies as gay, North Carolina elected the youngest member of Congress, New Mexico elected the first all-female congressional delegation (and all women of color), and Missouri elected the state’s first Black woman to Congress.

Going into the election, Republicans held a 53-47 majority in the U.S. Senate, with Democrats needing to gain at least three seats to win control. Of the 35 Senate seats up for grabs, 15 of those races featured one or both former state legislators.

The former state legislator won 14 of those races. In Wyoming, former Republican state lawmaker Cynthia Lummis won her bid to replace retiring Senator Mike Enzi, also a former state legislator.

Two races, both in Georgia, hang in the balance and will be decided by Jan. 5 runoffs.

In the U.S. House, Democrats held a 232-197 advantage over the Republicans and will continue to hold control but with a shrinking majority. Several races yet to be decided.

Of the 417 incumbent congressional races, 57 of those incumbents were former state legislators. Two former state legislators defeated incumbents—former Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald was victorious in Wisconsin’s 5th District and Deborah Ross, a former North Carolina state representative, notched a victory in North Carolina’s 2nd District.

Michael Quillen is a policy associate in NCSL's State-Federal Relations Program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.