Minnesota has never elected a Black women to the state Senate. Seven candidates are aiming to make history during the elections in November. Credit: Collage by Ben Hovland | Sahan Journal

Zaynab Mohamed and Erin Maye Quade are on track to becoming the first Black women elected to the state senate. 

Zaynab wins the primary race in District 63 of south Minneapolis, a safe win for Democrats in November. Maye Quade will go on to face Jim Bean in Apple Valley in the general elections in November. Huldah Hiltsley lost the race in Brooklyn Center and Zuki Ellis lost in St. Paul. Running as a Republican, Larvita McFarquhar also lost the primary race in Greater Minnesota.

As the only registered Democrats in their districts, Clare Oumou Verbeten and Farhio Khalif did not have a primary race but will appear on the ballot in November. Marla Helseth will also appear on the ballot as a Republican in November.

  • Larvita McFarquhar is a bar owner in Lynd, Minnesota, running as a Republican in District 15, which includes Greater Minnesota counties Benton, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, and Wright.
  • Farhio Khalif, a nonprofit advocate, is running in District 37 in Maple Grove. As the only Democrat in the race, Farhio will not have a primary race and will appear on the ballot in November.
  • Huldah Hiltsley is a data privacy analyst running in District 38. The district includes Brooklyn Center and the southern part of Brooklyn Park.
  • Marla Helseth is a former model and restaurant manager running as a Republican in District 49 in Eden Prairie and southern Minnetonka. She’s the only Republican running in the district and will appear on the ballot in November.
  • Erin Maye Quade is a former state representative running in District 57, which encompasses Apple Valley, Rosemount, and the southeastern part of Eagan.
  • Zaynab Mohamed is a community activist and policy aide running to represent south Minneapolis in District 63.
  • Zuki Ellis is a St. Paul Public Schools board member running in District 65, in St. Paul.
  • Clare Oumou Verbeten is an equity manager for the City of St. Paul running to represent Roseville, Lauderdale, Falcon Heights, and parts of St. Paul in District 66. As the only registered Democrat in the race in District 66, Oumou Verbeten will not have a primary race and will appear on the ballot in November.

In March, Sahan Journal sat down with six of these candidates to talk about their hopes for office. The candidates range in background and work experience as well as political affiliation. Zaynab and Oumou Verbeten are also in their twenties and could become the youngest women to join the Minnesota Senate.

Hibah Ansari is a reporter for Sahan Journal covering immigration and politics. She was named the 2022 Young Journalist of the Year by the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists. She’s a graduate...