Somali-American politicians score big on Primary Tuesday

Somali-American politicians running on democratic progressive tickets won big in two key Primary Tuesday contests in Minneapolis, home to the largest Somali-American population in the U.S.

Ilhan Omar defeated challenger Antone Melton-Meaux in one of the most closely watched races so far this election year. Meaux, an attorney, raised millions nationally in the contentious campaign that mainly targeted Ilhan’s rising national profile but in the end, it was not enough to secure the 5th Congressional District.

“It is my conclusion at this stage that Congresswoman Omar will be reelected,” Melton-Meaux said on MPR News. “I congratulate Congresswoman Omar on her victory.”

Ilhan Omar won 92,433 votes, giving her 57.44% of the total votes. Meaux was able to garner 39.18% of the total vote with 63,059 ballots cast in his favour.

Ilhan Omar, a self-described progressive Democrat and member of ‘the squad’ made history in 2018 when she became the first Somali elected to Congress and one of the first two Muslims elected to Congress.

Omar Fateh, a 30-year-old business analyst, went into Tuesday’s primary against incumbent Sen. Jeff Hayden, a well-established DFL legislator with caucus leadership. By Tuesday evening, Fateh declared victory with a comfortable double-digit lead and over 90% of the votes tallied.

“We won this race tonight. We couldn’t have done it without the surge of grassroots support that came from south Minneapolis. This is what it looks like to hold power to account. This is what it looks like to win for change.”

Fateh is the son of immigrant parents who moved to the U.S. in the 1960’s and 70’s. He was raised near Washington D.C and moved to Minneapolis five years ago.

Former city councillor Abdi Warsame’s vacant Ward 6 seat has been an unusually crowded race with eleven candidates vying for the position.

Jamal Osman, a nonprofit housing worker, leads that ranked-voting contest with 29%. He is trailed by AJ Awed with 22% of first-choice votes, and AK Hassan is in a distant third with 14%.

Also on the ballot are Abdirizak Bihi, Michael P. Dougherty, Sara Mae Engberg, Nebiha Mohammed, Suud Olat, Alex Palacios, Joshua Scheunemann and Saciido Shaie.

Abdi Warsame vacated his seat after he was appointed the head of Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.

All of the candidates victories highlight a continuing trend in Minnesota with the rise of the Somali-American political class. For the past decade, Somali-American’s have contested – and won – elections in every level of government, from the school board, city council to the statehouse and Congress.

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