Ilhan Omar makes history, becoming 1st Somali-American elected to U.S. House

November 7, 2018 GMT

Minnesotas first Somali-American state representative has made history: She is now the countrys first Somali-American elected to Congress.

State Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, defeated Republican Jennifer Zielinski in the race to represent the states Fifth District, which spans Minneapolis, Edina, Richfield, Golden Valley and other Minneapolis suburbs.

Omar, 36, is a vocal advocate for single-payer health care, tighter gun restrictions and more expansive immigration policies. She has captured national attention because of her life story as a refugee who made her way into elected office. She immigrated to the United States at age 12 and served as a Minneapolis City Council policy aide before winning election to the Legislature in 2016.


Zielinski, a clinical specialist for Allina Health, had hoped to flip a seat thats been held by Democrats since the early 1960s most recently by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who opted to run for state attorney general this year.

Omars victory amounts to another first: She and Michigans Rashida Tlaib, who also won Tuesday night, will become the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress.