Image via screengrab Ritchie Torres
Image via screengrab

Torres was overcome by emotion on Tuesday, as all signs pointed to victory and the chance to represent the South Bronx in the House.

While many voters are understandably looking forward to November’s general elections as the time to cast a change vote, initial results from Tuesday’s primaries show that these races can be just as historic. 

In New York City, councilman Ritchie Torres is on track for a historic win in his race to represent New York’s 15th District in Congress, where he would become one of the chamber’s first two openly gay Black members. 

Torres was overcome by emotion on Tuesday, as all signs pointed to victory and the chance to represent the South Bronx in the House. “It would be the honor of my life to represent this borough. It’s my home,” Torres said in an interview with Spectrum News NY1

Torres was one of a dozen candidates vying to fill an open seat left by retiring Rep. Jose Serrano, and as of this writing, holds an 11-point lead over his closest challenger. Barring a stunning rally by one of his opponents, Torres and progressive attorney Mondaire Jones will be the first two openly gay Black members to serve in Congress. Jones is up by more than 20 points in his primary to represent New York’s 17th district in the House. Both districts are safely Democratic, meaning primary victories would all but guarantee them victories in November.

Torres was overjoyed by the possibility of serving the residents of his community in the halls of Congress and was quick to thank his mother for her sacrifices. 

Torres noted that he was not declaring victory yet, as there are still thousands of votes left to be counted. But leading election expert Dave Wasserman, an editor of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, called the race for Torres on Tuesday.

The historic nature of Torres’ win underscores the urgency of primaries, which typically experience low voter turnout. One of his chief rivals in the race was fellow Democratic city councilman Ruben Díaz. Sr., who has a long history of homophobic comments and has previously praised President Donald Trump. Instead, an openly gay Afro-Latina man will represent the South Bronx in Congress. 

The importance of Torres and Jones’ victories was not lost on Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “With these two candidates, we are on the cusp of achieving history,” David told ABC News.

Torres plans to focus on affordable housing when he arrives in Washington and made clear that what’s most important to him isn’t just winning or setting history, but doing his job well. 

“It’s governing that matters,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s delivering results for the everyday people of the South Bronx.”