Ilhan Omar Elected Into Office
A woman who spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp made history last night. Ilhan Omar became America’s first Somali-American legislator after defeating Rep. Phyllis Kahn, the House’s longest serving member.
The Star Tribune reports:
Ilhan Omar made history Tuesday night as the nation’s first Somali-American legislator, with a commanding win in a state House race.
“It’s the beginning of something new,” Omar said. “This district has a legacy of making history. I am excited for our progressive values and to be able to be on the ground at the Capitol representing the diverse people of my district and being a champion with them and for them.”
Omar, a 34-year-old Muslim-American woman who proudly wears the hijab, is suddenly thrust into leadership of a rapidly emerging DFL coalition that is younger, more urban and more racially and ethnically diverse than at any time in its history.
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said Omar’s victory is a statement about the state’s future:
Omar, who is also director of policy at Women Organizing Women Network — a group dedicated to pushing East African women into civic leadership — is credited with being a talented organizer and leader of a multiracial coalition that includes Minneapolis progressives.
That in turn helped her defeat Rep. Phyllis Kahn — the House’s longest serving member — in a three-way DFL primary that included another formidable Somali-American opponent.
A little light at the end of this dark tunnel.