Primary Election: Ilhan Omar Wins Minnesota House District 60B Seat Primary

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Ilhan Omar spoke to supporters at Kalsan in Minneapolis

Born in Somalia, Omar, 33, and her family escaped civil war and lived for four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before ultimately moving to the Somali-American neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside, where she has lived for nearly two decades and is currently director of policy initiatives at Women Organizing Women.

Ilhan Omar spoke to supporters at Kalsan in Minneapolis
Ilhan Omar spoke to supporters at Kalsan in Minneapolis

Neighborhood activist Ilhan Omar made history Tuesday by winning a fiercely competitive DFL primary in a Minneapolis House district, which means she likely will become the nation’s first Somali-American legislator next year.

Her victory was all the more remarkable for beating DFL Rep. Phyllis Kahn, a historic figure in her own right who is tied for the longest-serving legislator in state history.

Born in Somalia, Omar, 33, and her family escaped civil war and lived for four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before ultimately moving to the Somali-American neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside, where she has lived for nearly two decades and is currently director of policy initiatives at Women Organizing Women.

Chants of “Ilhan” rung out as Omar walked in to a celebration Tuesday night, grinned, wiped away tears and held one of her three children close to her side on her way to a stage. Revelers had to be ushered off the stage.

“Tonight we made history,” Omar told the crowd. “Tonight marks the beginning of the future of our district, a new era of representation. Tonight is about the power of you.”

She choked up as she thanked her father, husband and children and her late grandfather, whom she credited for teaching her about representative democracy. Many in the audience wiped away tears.

“It is with tremendous gratitude that I accept the nomination. I pledge to represent you with integrity and humility,” she said, promising to be a progressive champion.

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