Posted by Haley Arata on November 07, 2018 in Blog
This year, 25 Arab Americans ran for seats in the US Senate or US Congress, or as Gubernatorial candidates. Of those, 12 were on November 6th ballots, and nine were elected by their respective constituencies. A heightened level of enthusiasm surrounded the elections of Ilhan Omar, MN-5, and Rashida Tlaib, MI-13, who are both Arab American and the first American Muslim women to be elected to US Congress.
Two candidates reign victorious in Florida: Donna Shalala in the 27th District and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in the 26th District. During the campaign trail, Shalala emphasized her experience as former secretary of health and Human Services in President Bill Clinton’s administration, and pledged to address climate change in the hurricane-prone state. The FL-26 race was close, with Mucarsel-Powell pulling out a win by only one percentage point.
Multiple Arab American candidates won re-election this year: Louisiana Rep. Ralph Abraham, LA-5, secured a third-term victory with 67 percent of the vote (and whispers of plans to run for governor next year); Rep. Garret Graves will once again represent the 6th District of Louisiana; Republican Rep. Justin Amash won another term to represent Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, leading to his eighth year in office after first being elected in 2010; and Gov. Chris Sununu won his second term as governor of New Hampshire.
Ammar Campa-Najjar fell short in his campaign for CA-50, but did endure a viciously bigoted campaign by Republican opponent Duncan Hunter, who portrayed Campa-Najjar as belonging to a plot by “radical Muslims…trying to infiltrate the U.S. government.” These deplorable actions did not deter Campa-Najjar, however, who continued to run a respectful campaign through Election Day.
46 Arab Americans ran in the Nov. 6th election for an array of positions in state- and local-level government, from City Council to State House and Circuit Court. Examples include: Ahmad Zahra, who won a seat on the Fullerton, CA City Council; Michael Saba who will represent the 9th District of South Dakota in the State House of Representatives; and Sam Betar III who will serve on the 13th Judicial District Court in Cook County, Illinois.
We are encouraged by the number of Arab American candidates who ran for office this year, from the national to the local level, who sought to represent their communities and influence policy that will impact our daily lives.