Erin Maye Quade photographed during an interview with reporter Hibah Ansari at Mason Jar Restaurant in Eagan, Minnesota on Election Day, November 8, 2022. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

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Former state representative Erin Maye Quade made history Tuesday night as one of the first Black women elected to the Minnesota Senate.

Maye Quade, 36, of Apple Valley, received 57 percent of vote against Republican Jim Bean, who received 43 percent of the vote. The Democrat will represent Senate District 56, a newly configured district that includes Apple Valley and parts of Rosemount and Eagan. 

“I am honored to work with my community again and to represent them as a state senator,” Maye Quade told Sahan Journal. “I’m really looking forward to the freshman class that I get to serve with, being among the first Black women in the Minnesota Senate, the first out lesbian elected to the Minnesota Senate, and the first Black mom in the state senate.”

Maye Quade served a term in the state House in 2017. She wrote bills to increase funding for public schools and special education. She also founded Minnesota’s Childhood Hunger Caucus. Maye Quade ran as a champion for reproductive justice. She also leads the advocacy groups UnRestrict Minnesota and Gender Justice, which fight for reproductive healthcare and gender equity.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Maye Quade said the responsibility to decide what reproductive rights look like in Minnesota fell to state legislators. Maye Quade told Sahan Journal in August that as a state senator she will prioritize protecting reproductive rights, single-payer healthcare, and job creation. 

“A big one is protecting reproductive rights,” Maye Quade said at the time. “That includes getting advanced-practice clinicians trained and ready to provide. It means making sure that patients and providers in the state are not prosecuted from other states.”

She told Sahan Journal on Election Day that the top issue voters talked to her about while doorknocking was abortion rights.

Maye Quade went into labor while giving a speech at the DFL caucus in April, sparking a national conversation on misogyny in politics. As a result, the endorsement went to her opponent Justin Emmerich, who Maye Quade handily defeated in DFL primary in August.

Maye Quade was one five candidates vying to become the first Black women elected to the Minnesota Senate in 164 years of statehood. Three were elected; two lost their races. The victors plan to create a caucus for Black women in the Senate after they are sworn into office in January.

Hibah Ansari is a reporter for Sahan Journal and corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She was named the 2022 Young Journalist of...