On Tuesday night, a Somali-American Ilhan Omar won a heated primary for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district seat, beating out six other candidates, including state senator Patricia Torres Ray and former state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who had been vying to fill the congressional seat currently held by Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison.

People began filling into the Somali restaurant where her campaign watch party was being held, many dressed in blue, “Ilhan for Congress” shirts. A deafening roar erupted when the race was called shortly after, with the crowd breaking out into a spontaneous chant of “Go Ilhan.”


“We did it. We won. Oh my god,” Omar said when she finally took the stage after supporters danced around her at the podium. “I have always said, you get what you organize for. And today you all organized for this big victory.”

With over 95% of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Omar had a nearly 20% lead over her closest opponent, Kelliher.

The win puts Omar a spot on the ballot in November, and in a district, that has sent a Democrat to the US House of Representatives since the 1960s, nearly guarantees her a victory in November.

Omar, the US first Somali-American state lawmaker — elected on the same night Donald Trump became president in 2016 —  will likely be joined in Congress by fellow Muslim and Palestinian American progressive Rashida Tlaib, who won a primary to fill former Rep. John Conyers Detroit seat last week. The two Democrats — who will become the first Muslim women elected to Congress, should they win this fall —are part of a wave of Muslim candidates running in local, state and national elections around the country this year, in what many see as a reaction to the Trump administration’s policies and rhetoric towards Muslims and immigrants.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose upset win over a 10-term incumbent in New York’s 14th congressional district shook the Democratic Party establishment, endorsed Omar last Friday.

“America, if you don’t already know about Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN), it’s time to know & support her,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “She’s a modern day hero, the champion for working families, & running for Congress in Minnesota.”

Currently held by Ellison — the first Muslim to ever serve in the US House of Representatives — Minnesota’s 5th congressional district seat opened up suddenly in June after Ellison decided at the last minute to run for state attorney general. His announcement set off a mad, eleventh-hour rush of Democratic candidates looking to fill the seat, which represents one of the most liberal districts in Minnesota. buzzfeednews

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