GOP Wave Yields More Racially Diverse Congress, But No Gains for Women

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Women Fail to Gain Ground in Congress

Meanwhile, despite record numbers of women filing to run for the U.S. House and Senate during the primaries, women failed to increase their number in Congress and could cede ground to men next year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Seventeen women currently serve in the U.S. Senate, and 11 were not up for reelection this year.

Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, and Patty Murray of Washington, and Republican Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire were elected Tuesday, meaning a total of at least 16 women in the Senate.

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is locked in a tight race with her opponent and the outcome is not yet clear.

Seven high-profile women candidates for Senate failed in their bids, including Linda McMahon of Connecticut, Christine O'Donnell of Delaware, and Sharron Angle of Nevada. Arkansas Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln lost her reelection bid.

In the House, where 73 women now serve, at least 70 women will be seated in 2011. But three women candidates -- Democrats Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and Melissa Bean of Illinois and Republican Ann Marie Buerkle of New York -- are in races too close to call.

If any one of those three lose, there will be a decline in the total number of women in Congress for the first time in 30 years.

Here's a look at some historic "firsts" for minority candidates this year:

Republican Jaime Herrera became Washington state's first Latina representative in Congress.

Marco Rubio is the country's 7th Latino Senator and the first GOP senator since Mel Martinez resigned in 2009.

Tim Scott and Alan West became the first Republican African American members of Congress to enter the House since 2003.

Hawaii became the first state who's congressional contingent is entirely women.

Nevada elected its first Latino governor in Brian Sandoval.

Susanna Martinez is New Mexico's first female governor and one of the country's first two women of color governors.

Nikki Haley of South Carolina became the country's second Indian-American governor, the state's first woman governor, and one of the first two women of color.

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