GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hillary Scholten has been elected in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, the first Democrat to represent the area since the 1970s, the Associated Press reports.

“Oh, wow,” Scholten told supporters early Wednesday afternoon. “It is a new day in West Michigan. We did it, folks, we did it.”

She thanked her supporters and the voters who elected her to office, pointing to “Republicans and independents who had never cast a ballot for a Democrat before but took a chance on me.”

“We are sending a message to our country and the world about who we are and what we stand for here,” Scholten said. “We’re a community that values service over self, building up over tearing down, unity over division. We’re a community that cares for its poor, its vulnerable, and welcomes the stranger. A community where differences are not feared, but valued. We love our country and we will not tolerate anti-democratic, anti-American extremism here in West Michigan.”

She looked forward to the “hard work” of governance and promised to keep promoting the values that prompted voters to choose her.

Hillary Scholten thanks supporters after being elected to represent Michigan's 3rd Congressional District. (Nov. 9, 2022)
Hillary Scholten thanks supporters after being elected to represent Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District. (Nov. 9, 2022)

“I am so ready,” a smiling and laughing Scholten said. “I’ll show up here for you time and time again. … Having a representative that shows up, that is deeply invested in her community is what this is all about. Thank you so much. It is an honor to serve you.”

Scholten, a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney, defeated Republican John Gibbs with about 55% of the vote compared to Gibbs’ 42%.

“Folks, it was not close. We’re holding a 13-point lead right now,” Scholten told supporters Wednesday morning.

Gibbs, a former employee of former President Donald Trump’s administration employee who had been endorsed by him, unseated incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer in the Republican primary in August. Meijer had defeated Scholten in the general election in 2020.

Since then, the 3rd Congressional — along with every legislative district in Michigan — has been redrawn. It now covers metro Grand Rapids and much of Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties. The 3rd was long considered a Republican stronghold, but the redistricting turned it into a tossup.

“Running for office at a critical crossroads like this is an act of patriotism for our dear country, and it has been a privilege to do it,” Scholten told her supporters at a gathering in Grand Rapids Tuesday evening, well before the race was called around 2 a.m. Wednesday. “We’ve run a campaign with honesty, with integrity, with a whole lot of faith and true grit.”

“We’re feeling incredibly strong. We ran a strong campaign that was focused on building something new here in West Michigan,” Scholten told News 8 a short time later. “We’ve got a broad coalition of supporters on the right and the left.”

Just before 11 a.m. Wednesday, Gibbs tweeted his concession, saying that he was proud of what his team accomplished.

“Yet through no fault of our own, the results did not turn out the way we wanted,” Gibbs wrote in the statement.

He wished Scholten well in representing West Michigan.

The race drew attention across the country, especially as Republicans made a bid to retake control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Scholten is the first woman to hold the 3rd Congressional seat.

“I’m so excited for Hillary Scholten’s opportunity to be the first congresswoman from West Michigan,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, told News 8 before the race was called.