How older first-time candidates fared in the midterm elections

Let's just say the term landslide probably isn't appropriate

Ms. Smith goes to Washington: First-time candidates Chrissy Houlahan, 51 (left), and Donna Shalala, 77, are both headed to the U.S. House of Representatives.

First-time candidates for any political office face an uphill battle, and the 121 first-timers age 50 and older identified by Considerable were no exception.

At least 105 of those candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House failed in their efforts, typically as they tried to unseat established incumbents in congressional districts that were strongholds for one party or the other.

But at least 13 others won, and three appear poised to win. All but four of those candidates were competing in open seats.

Billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker, 53, upset incumbent Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in a battle financed largely by the two candidates.

In Tennessee, Republican businessman Bill Lee, 59, won his race for the open gubernatorial seat.

Several are part of the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House, and the wave of women winning office. A few examples:

  • Former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, 77. turned a red seat blue in southeastern Florida.
  • Democrat Cindy Axne, 53, ousted an incumbent Republican in Iowa.
  • Susan Wild, 61, Chrissy Houlihan, 51, and Mary Gay Scanlon, 58, all won open seats in newly redistricted Pennsylvania.

Among the four GOP first-time congressional winners is Greg Pence, brother of Vice President Mike Pence, who won an open seat in Indiana.

In neck-and-neck races, some of which are still undecided, Democrat Harley Rouda, 56, is leading incumbent California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, while Lucy McBath, 58, has declared victory over GOP Rep. Karen Handel in Georgia, though the contest is close. And Democratic Dr. Amy Schrier is leading her Republican opponent in a Washington race that is the state’s most expensive congressional contest ever.

None of the six 50-plus first time candidates challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. senators won their contests.