The Honorable Richard E Neal

Ilhan Omar

On November 6, 2018, Ilhan Omar, Minnesota’s first Somali-American state representative made history once again: She is now the country’s first Somali-American elected to Congress. Along with Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, she is also the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. State Rep. Omar, a Democrat, defeated Republican Jennifer Zielinski in the race to represent the state’s Fifth District, which covers Minneapolis, Edina, Richfield, Golden Valley and other suburbs.

Let’s take a minute and go back to 2016. I know it’s painful but bear with me. Trump was on the campaign trail, talking to a crowd at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and this is what he said, “large numbers of Somali refugees [are] coming into your state without your knowledge, without your support or approval, and with some of them then joining ISIS and spreading their extremist views all over our country and all over the world.”

Two years later Minnesota sends a Somali-American refugee to Congress. I’ve never been to Minnesota but I have known a good number of people born and raised in Minnesota and something they tend not to like is people who have spent less than a weekend in their state telling them what to think.

It makes them spikey and you don’t really ever want to deal with a Minnesotan in a spikey mood.

Does Omar owe her win to Trump? No. Did him coming in and talking nonsense motivate people to investigate the veracity of his comments? Probably.

Minnesotans like their research. To a sometimes irritating degree. And what they found out is that Omar has solid ideas regarding the future not only of her district but her state and her country.

Omar supports universal healthcare, stricter gun control legislation and she won a whopping 78% of the vote.

There is some controversy regarding her stand on Israel and noise was made about how campaign funds were spent. But for the time being Omar has strong home support which is very helpful during a freshman term and could set a positive tone for her first two years in office.

From Somalia to Kenya to Virginia to Minnesota, Ilhan Omar has traveled far and worked hard to get to where she is. It will be interesting to see where she goes from here.

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