(NewsNation) — The 2022 midterm election included two history-making results in the Midwest.
When Shri Thanedar is sworn in to the House of Representatives in January, he’ll become the first Indian-American to represent Michigan in Congress. When Illinoisan Delia Ramirez is sworn in, she’ll become the first Latina from the Midwest to serve in Congress.
Both Democrats, the freshman representatives-elect won their races with more than 65% of the vote. Thanedar eclipsed 70%. Both faced obstacles in their life they said contributed to their political aspirations.
“I struggled in high school … and if you would have told me my sophomore year that I would be running for Congress, I’d think you were crazy,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t know one Latina, someone that looked like me, certainly not from Illinois, that would be representing me in a place such as Congress.”
Ramirez, who will serve Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District, got involved in public service at a young age. Her parents instilled in her values of integrity and community, and she said the support she received from them, friends and others kept her motivated.
“Every single moment, even in the midst of my struggles, people believed in me and expected me to lead, even when I didn’t think I could,” Ramirez said. “That really made a difference.”
Thanedar believes the struggles he experienced growing up resonated with voters, who chose him to serve Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, which covers Detroit.
“People knew my story of an immigrant who came to this country when I was 24 to lift my family out of poverty,” Thanedar said. “I’m probably the most unlikely person to be the next congressman from the city of Detroit, but the voters saw … me achieving the American Dream.”
When Thanedar looked around, he said he realized that American Dream isn’t accessible to many people in Detroit. So he put his life earnings to use in his mission to help others. He sold his business for $1.5 million, distributed most to his employees, and used the rest to fund his campaign.
“I (want to) help others achieve their American Dream,” Thanedar said.
Though the city will have no Black representation in Congress for the first time in nearly 70 years, Thanedar plans to fight for African-Americans, he told local media. He supports reparations and talks about adverse health outcomes and voting rights challenges.