Ilhan Omar Makes History With Victory Over Phyllis Kahn
Eeeek!—a hijabi state legislator (potentially). I can think of a few people who’re going to be absolutely horrified [insert wickedly gleeful grin].
That was quite the journey, from a refugee camp to the state capitol (hopefully). And she wasn’t the only one—a young guy named Fue Lee, who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, defeated a 10-term incumbent in another district.
On the other hand, GOP voters in yet another district chose a racist, homophobic, misogynistic wingnut, despite the fact that he was criticized as being “unelectable” by the state GOP establishment. It appears they have lost control of their party at every level.
Okay, on to the story now—emphasis is mine:
“This is a wonderful story to tell as Americans, and a great source of pride for the state of Minnesota’s open arms.” Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. RybakNeighborhood 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. […]
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. […]
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. […]
Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who endorsed Omar earlier this year, applauded Omar. “From a refugee camp to the State Capitol with intelligence and insight,” he said. “This is a wonderful story to tell as Americans, and a great source of pride for the state of Minnesota’s open arms.” […]
Hassan Abdi, 25, voted for the first time on Tuesday, driven to the polls by his concern for jobless young people and his belief that Omar can help. “We need leaders who can change our community,” said the resident of Cedar-Riverside, who works for UPS. “Too many young people are going around with no jobs.”
Abdi, originally from Somalia, also said he has rallied behind Omar for cultural reasons. “In my home country, men have the power,” he said. “This is an opportunity to show that women can do what a man can do.”
Omar’s dramatic victory threatened to overshadow another upset, this one from 24-year-old Fue Lee, who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and currently works in the office of Secretary of State Steve Simon. He defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis.
Both upsets came in heavily DFL districts, which means they are virtually assured of victory in November.
Their victories illustrated the ascendance of minority populations in the DFL, as new immigrants and African-Americans demand a higher profile and a seat at the table of the party they call home. […]
So don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this, right now, is the greatest country on earth.
By the way, I understood from the context that DFL was a reference to the state democratic party, but I looked it up anyway out of curiosity: It stands for the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party. Senators Amy Klobuchar & Al Franken are DFL members, as is Rep. Keith Ellison.