Voters in Minnesota and Michigan on Tuesday elected the first two Muslim women to serve in the U.S. Congress, a former refugee who fled Somalia’s civil war and a Detroit-born Palestinian-American.
The victories by the two Democrats – Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – came on an election night when members of multiple minority groups had a chance to score electoral firsts.
In Minnesota, Omar, about 36 and a naturalized American citizen and state representative, follows another trailblazer. She will succeed U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, who in 2006 became the first Muslim elected to Congress and is stepping down to run for state attorney general.
Tlaib, 42, also has a history of breaking barriers: In 2008 she became the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature.
Democrats won the House of Representatives, which will enable them to thwart the president’s agenda. But Republicans consolidated their grip on the Senate, ensuring the president can still make key appointments.