Zaynab Mohamed celebrates winning the DFL primary race at Prieto in Minneapolis, MN on Aug. 9 2022.
Zaynab Mohamed celebrates winning the DFL primary race at Prieto in Minneapolis, MN on Aug. 9 2022. Credit: Drew Arrieta | Sahan Journal

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Zaynab Mohamed is one step closer to becoming the first Black woman and the youngest woman* to serve in the state Senate after beating her challenger in Tuesday’s DFL primary.

Zaynab, a 25-year-old Minneapolis resident, beat Todd Scott by earning 68 percent of the vote by 9 p.m. With 90 percent of the precincts reporting, Zaynab was leading Scott by 37 percent. Scott received 32 percent of the vote.

“When I first thought about running for office, it was because I wanted to make people’s lives easier, not harder,” Zaynab said in a victory speech Tuesday night. “It’s not just a campaign slogan; it’s a phrase that basically has meant a lot to us.”

“There are people sleeping outside at negative 20 degrees. That’s immoral in a country that prides itself in being the wealthiest nation in the world, and one of the best states that we live in there are people outside in negative 20 degree weather. That’s why I wanted to run.”

 A crowd of about 75 supporters celebrated at her victory party.

Zaynab is a policy aide for Minneapolis City Councilmember Jason Chavez, and has served as a community advocacy manager for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Zaynab previously told Sahan Journal that she would represent District 63 with an eye on eliminating disparities. The district includes the southeast corner of Minneapolis, the eastern part of Richfield, and Fort Snelling.

Zaynab will face Republican Shawn Holster in the November general election, but District 63 voters almost always elect Democratic candidates. 

Although Zaynab could be the first Black woman in the Minnesota state Senate, she’s hoping she won’t be the only one.

“When I first thought about running, something that crossed my mind is, I hope I don’t go in there alone as the first Black woman elected. We need more,” she told Sahan Journal in March.

Zaynab Mohamed celebrates winning the DFL primary race at Prieto in Minneapolis, MN on Aug. 9 2022. Credit: Drew Arrieta | Sahan Journal

Zaynab has said that she would prioritize eliminating inequities in health care, increasing the state-wide minimum wage to $15, and improving public safety. Her campaign raised about $78,000, according to campaign spokesman Luke Bishop.

Zaynab was born in Somalia and grew up in south Minneapolis. From a young age, she helped provide for her family and help them navigate public services, she told Sahan Journal. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2019. 

Senator Patricia Torres Ray, who served five terms in Senate District 63 and was the first Latina to serve in the Minnesota Senate, did not run for reelection and endorsed Zaynab.

*Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article said that if she is elected in November, Zaynab Mohamed would become the youngest person to serve in the state Senate.

Zaynab Mohamed celebrates winning the DFL primary race at Prieto in Minneapolis, MN on Aug. 9 2022. Credit: Drew Arrieta | Sahan Journal

Sheila Mulrooney Eldred writes stories about health equity for Sahan Journal. As a freelance journalist, she has written for The New York Times, the Washington Post, FiveThirtyEight, NPR, STAT News and...