Safiya Wazir, a 27-year-old former refugee from Afghanistan who is now an American citizen, beat out four-term New Hampshire state Rep. Dick Patten (D) in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night.
If she defeats her Republican opponent in November, Wazir would become the first refugee to ever serve in public office in the state. She immigrated to Concord, New Hampshire about 11 years ago, as the Taliban consolidated power in Afghanistan.
Patten ran a negative campaign against Wazir, claiming her lack of experience and refugee status would harm her chance at winning.
Wazir, who is running for office while pregnant, campaigned on middle-class issues that mobilize voters, including enacting paid family leave in New Hampshire and Medicaid expansion. She knocked on thousands of doors across District 17 connecting with voters and highlighted her years of community activism.
— Safiya Wazir for NH State Rep (@WazirNh) September 11, 2018
“They were very excited there was someone new running for the State House,” Wazir told the Concord Monitor. “It gives me so much energy to be backed from the people themselves. It’s driven me to be positive.”
In recent years there has been a wave of refugees running in both state house and congressional races. Last August, former Minnesota state representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Somali refugee won the primary for Rep. Keith Ellison’s (D-MN) congressional seat. If she wins the general election in November, she will become one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.