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US Election: Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib Retain Seats

Muslim congresswomen Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota successfully retained their seats during yesterday’s election for the US House of Representatives.

The two lawmakers comfortably fended off primary challenges in August to secure a second term for their Democratic seats. 

The race was tough as Omar’s Republican challenger, African American businessman Lacy Johnson, raised $10m while Tlaib’s rival David Dudenhoefer raised $1m, staggering amounts of money for non-competitive House races.

Yet, Tlaib secured 84,690 votes, representing 67.1% of the votes. On the other hand, Omar, 38, defeated Johnson by 64.6 percent of the vote to 25.9 percent, according to The Associated Press news agency.

Both Rashida and Omar are members of the so-called progressive “The Squad” along with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

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The group has been said to represent the demographic diversity of a younger political generation. Also, they represent the advocacy of progressive policies such as the Green New Deal, which have sometimes clashed with their party’s leadership.

Trump has frequently vilified both congresswomen, and in the lead up to election day he lobbed frequent xenophobic attacks at Omar, accusing her at a recent rally of telling “us” – his overwhelmingly white audience – “how to run our country”. 


Congratulatory messages for both congresswomen poured in online late on Tuesday.

“Rashida Tlaib shows us every day what is possible when we refuse to give up. Mazel tov on your win, Rep. Rashida Tlaib,” JVP Action, a political advocacy group affiliated with Jewish Voice for Peace, said in a tweet.

Justice Democrats, a group that backs progressive candidates, congratulated Omar on her victory. They called her a “beacon of hope to millions of Americans”.

IfNotNow, a youth-led progressive Jewish group, sent a message of support to the congresswomen as well.

“We had your back during your first term, and we look forward to continuing to support you in your fight for Palestinian freedom and against antisemitism,” the group said in a tweet addressing Tlaib. 

IfNotNow also pledged to continue to support Omar. “We are proud to have endorsed you for your reelection. And are excited to support you in your fight for freedom and dignity, those here and those abroad.”

Omar became the nation’s first Somali-American lawmaker after being elected in 2016 as a state representative from Minneapolis, just as Tlaib herself also made history in 2016 as the first Muslim woman at Michigan Legislature.