New York elects youngest woman to US Congress

New York - A 30-year-old upstate New York Republican on Tuesday made history by becoming the youngest woman elected to US Congress, shattering a record set before she was born.

Elise Stefanik, a former White House aide to President George W Bush, won New York's upstate 21st district, beating her Democrat challenger, film producer Aaron Woolf.

With 498 out of 598 districts reported, she had won 44.1% of the vote compared to 28.39% for Woolf, said the New York state board of elections.

The last record was last set by former Democratic representative Elizabeth Holtzman in Brooklyn who won a seat in the House in 1972 when she was 31 years old and took her seat in 1973.

US media has dubbed her the rising star of the Republican Party who currently works for her family's business, a distributor of hardwood plywoods with more than 1 000 customers.

The 21st congressional district of New York, which she will now represent, was won previously by Democrat candidates in 2010 and 2012. The current incumbent, Bill Owens, did not seek re-election.

The northern-most district of the state, it borders Canada.

Born and raised in upstate New York, Stefanik was privately educated in the state capital Albany before going to Harvard, becoming the first in her family to graduate from college.

She has campaigned to repeal Obamacare, the landmark healthcare reform law that has allowed millions of low-income Americans to sign up to affordable health insurance.

"I'm running for Congress because my generation can't just complain about our problems, we have to help solve them as well", she said in a slick campaign video.

"Our country faces tough challenges, but with new ideas and fresh leadership, together we can get it done", she added.

Women occupy just 20% of the seats in the current US Senate and 18% in the House of Representatives, one of the lowest rates in the developed world.

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