Zaynab Mohamed, the first Black woman and Somali woman to be elected to the Minnesota Senate, is embraced by Minneapolis Ward 10 City Councilor Aisha Chughtai during the Minnesota DFL election night party at the Intercontinental Saint Paul Riverfront hotel on Tuesday. Credit: Ben Hovland | MPR News

Zaynab Mohamed became the youngest woman and one of the first Black women elected to the Minnesota Senate Tuesday night.

Zaynab, a 25-year-old Minneapolis resident and former policy aide, received 86 percent of the vote with 97 percent of precincts reporting. She won in Senate District 63, which includes parts of south Minneapolis, Richfield, and Fort Snelling.

The Democrat led Republican Shawn Holster by 72 percentage points.

“I’m honored that the people of South Minneapolis have placed their trust in me to serve as their next state senator,” Zaynab said Tuesday night. “I’m incredibly grateful to my friends, family, campaign staff, and volunteers who made this historic night possible and for the unwavering belief they had in me throughout this campaign. There’s important work ahead and I can’t wait to get to work improving the lives of working Minnesotans.”

The district almost always elects Democratic candidates, and has witnessed previous historic wins. Senator Patricia Torres Ray was the first Latina to serve in the Minnesota Senate after being elected to represent the district. She served five terms in Senate District 63 and did not run for reelection, instead endorsing Zaynab as her replacement.

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

Zaynab was born in Somalia and grew up in south Minneapolis. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2019.

Zaynab previously worked as a policy aide for Minneapolis City Councilmember Jason Chavez. She also served as the community advocacy manager for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“I’ve walked the halls of the Senate for the past year-and-a-half lobbying for bills, and I never saw myself in there. There’s not a single Black woman,” Zaynab told Sahan Journal when she announced her run. “We don’t have representation in the Senate.”

Four other Black women are running Tuesday for Minnesota Senate seats, and could make history as the first Black women elected to the state Senate in 164 years of statehood. The group plans to create a caucus for Black women in the Senate after they’re sworn into office in January.


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...