Ilhan Omar has won the Democratic primary in Minnesota’s House race to replace Rep. Keith Ellison.
Omar, a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, was the first Somali-American legislator in the United States. The district has been safely Democratic for decades, making a victory for Omar in November likely. She and Rashida Tlaib, who won her congressional primary in Michigan last week, will be the first Muslim women elected to the U.S. House.
Omar was endorsed by the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, as the Democratic party is known in the state. She beat four other Democrats also running for the seat, including former state House Speaker Margaret Kelliher, activist Jamal Abdulahi, state Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, and Frank Nelson Drake, who ran against Ellison as a Republican in 2016.
She won with a little more than 48 percent of the vote Tuesday.
Omar was born in Somalia and fled the country to escape civil war at age eight. For the next four years, she lived in a refugee camp in Kenya and immigrated to Minnesota in 1997.
“I know what it feels like to be a young family looking for opportunity in the United States,” she said after announcing her bid for Congress. “I am excited to go and be a voice for the voiceless at the Capitol.”
Omar, who ran on a progressive platform including immigrant justice, Medicare for all, and criminal justice reform, also secured the endorsement of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old socialist who shot to national prominence after toppling 10-year party boss Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY).
“She’s a modern day hero, champion for working families, & running for Congress in Minnesota,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Friday.
America, if you don’t already know about Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN), it’s time to know & support her.
She’s a modern day hero, champion for working families, & running for Congress in Minnesota.
Her election is THIS Tuesday.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) August 10, 2018
Omar’s victory comes just two days after domestic abuse allegations against her predecessor, Ellison, came to light.
The son of Ellison’s former girlfriend alleged in a Facebook post that the congressman and Democratic National Committee (DNC) vice chair had abused his mother. He said he had found a video of Ellison dragging his mother off a bed.
Karen Monahan, the ex-girlfriend, released a statement Sunday after her son’s post was picked up by national media saying she was a survivor of “narcissist abuse” and suffering from complex PTSD. She told CNN she misplaced the video allegedly showing Ellison dragging her off a bed during a move. She told ThinkProgress Monday that she did not want the video released even if she had it.
Ellison, who was leading the AG race by nearly 38 points at the time of publication, has flatly denied the claims. Omar and other top candidates in the race to replace him would not say whether they believed the allegations.
“I think for us right now it is really important for us not to politicize the pain of what she’s going through, and I want to make sure that we’re giving her time to really take care of herself and care for her health,” Omar told Roll Call Monday. “So I will reserve my opinions until I’m certain that she is in a good place to really advocate and speak on her behalf.”