Ilhan Omar wins Minnesota Democratic US House primary

Former refugee could become the first Somali American elected to US Congress if she wins November’s election.

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar is expected to become the first Somali American elected to US Congress [File: Jim Mone/AP]

Somali American legislator Ilhan Omar neared another first by winning the Democratic primary in a congressional race.

Omar, who drew national attention just two years ago by becoming the first Somali American elected to a state legislature in Minnesota, led a field that included former state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

If Omar wins in November in the reliably liberal district, she would be the first Somali American elected to Congress.

“Tonight, we are celebrating because we engaged and empowered our community and we won,” Omar said in a statement.

“Our campaign staff, our volunteers, and the people of the Fifth Congressional District are the inspiration we need to get up every day and fight for a democracy that guarantees a more just and equitable society.”

Representative Keith Ellison left the seat to run for state attorney general, winning his primary Tuesday night for that job.

Omar and Rashida Tlaib – a Palestinian American who won a Detroit-area Democratic primary in Michigan last week and is running unopposed in November – are now positioned to become the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress.

Tlaib wrote on Twitter: “I can’t wait to walk onto the floor of United States Congress hand in hand with you. So incredibly proud of you.”

Omar was first elected into office in 2016 by unseating a 22-term Democratic incumbent.

With a slight record after a single term in the minority party, Omar touted her background to voters, saying she would fight against US President Donald Trump, noting she would have been affected by his proposal to restrict travel from Muslim-majority countries.

The 2018 midterm elections have seen a record number of Muslims – at least 90 – running for political office.

Source: AP