First Ever Muslim Women Among Record Number Of Women Winners In US Midterm Elections

Even as the last numbers for the US midterm elections were still coming in, there are still two outstanding races that have two women competing against each other, which means that at least 100 women will be serving in the House next year.

NEW YORK – A record number of close to 100 women, including the first ever Muslim women, won seats in the US House of Representatives in the high-stakes 2018 midterm elections, a massive victory for female candidates across the political spectrum.

A onetime Somali refugee and the daughter of Palestinian immigrants shared the historic distinction Tuesday of becoming the first two Muslim women elected to the US Congress.

Both women — Ilhan Omar, 37, and Rashida Tlaib, 42 — are Democrats from the Midwest and outspoken advocates of minority communities that have found themselves in the sights of US President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.

Omar won a House seat in a strongly Democratic district in Minneapolis, Minnesota, succeeding Keith Ellison who was himself the first Muslim ever elected to Congress.

Tlaib’s victory was no surprise. She ran unopposed in a congressional district that stretches from Detroit to Dearborn, Michigan.

As of early Wednesday, CNN had projected 98 women would win House races, with 33 women newly elected to the House. This number bests the previous record of 85 representatives, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Even as the last poll numbers were still coming in, there are still two outstanding races that have two women competing against each other, which means that at least 100 women will be serving in the House next year.

On the Senate side, CNN projected that 12 women would win Senate seats, with two newly elected women joining nine female incumbents. Eight women — four incumbents and four non-incumbents — would win races to the Governors’ seats.

CNN said the numbers in each category tilted largely to Democrats, with 84 of the projected female House winners coming from the Democratic Party and 14 from the Republican side.

According to a CNN report, a tally from the Congressional Research Service said the previous record of 85 representatives served in the 114th Congress, including two members who resigned and one who was elected to fill a vacancy. Arizona is poised to elect its first female senator no matter which party wins, which will add to the Senate tally above.

“The historic totals capped off a campaign season in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election that was defined in large part by female activism,” the CNN report said.

A CNN analysis at the outset of the general election noted 256 women won House and Senate primaries — a record level that paved the way for Tuesday’s victories.

“The midterm elections saw women securing historic firsts around the country, from the first Native American women to join the House of Representatives to Tennessee electing a woman to the Senate for the first time,” it said.

The high-stakes 2018 midterm elections in the US delivered several significant firsts as millions came out in record numbers to elect the first two Muslim women to Congress, the youngest woman ever in Congress and the nation’s first openly gay governor.

Ilhan Omar won in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District and Rashida Tlaib won in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. They are the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Michigan Democrat Tlaib and the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s nominee Omar will secure their respective seats in strongly Democratic districts following primary victories earlier this year.

Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland will become the first Native American women elected to Congress. Rep. Marsha Blackburn will win the race to represent Tennessee in the US Senate.

Ilhan Omar

“I’m Muslim and black,” the hijab-wearing Omar said in a recent magazine interview.

“I decided to run because I was one of many people I knew who really wanted to demonstrate what representative democracies are supposed to be,” she said.

Omar fled Somalia’s civil war with her parents at the age of eight and spent four years at a refugee camp in Kenya.

Her family settled in Minnesota in 1997, where there is a sizable Somali population.

She won a seat in the state’s legislature in 2016, becoming the first Somali-American lawmaker in the country.

Rashida Tlaib

Rashida Tlaib is the Detroit-born daughter of Palestinian immigrants — the eldest of 14 children.

A fighter who once heckled US President Donald Trump during a 2016 campaign stop in Detroit, she says she didn’t run to make history as Muslim.

“I ran because of injustices and because of my boys, who are questioning their (Muslim) identity and whether they belong,” Tlaib said in an US television interview in August.

“I’ve never been one to stand on the sidelines.”

Like Omar, she blazed a trail through Michigan politics, becoming the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan state legislature in 2008.

In August, she emerged as the winner of a Democratic primary for a seat vacated by John Conyers, a longtime liberal lion who stepped down in December amid sexual harassment allegations and failing health.

With no Republican challenger in the race, Tlaib’s election on Tuesday became a formality.

The seat she won is in a predominantly African American congressional district with few Muslim voters.

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