With Ilhan Omar's primary win, the progressive Democratic congresswomen of color known as the Squad have solidified their staying power.

By Kimberly Truong
Aug 12, 2020 @ 10:39 am

On Tuesday night, Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress as well as the first Somali-American to be elected to Congress, defeated her primary challenger to win re-election in Minnesota's 5th district.

Omar, a member of the group of first-term Democratic congresswomen of color known as the Squad (which also includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley) faced a significant challenger in attorney Antone Melton-Meaux, who Politico pointed out had support from outside spending on his behalf.

"In Minnesota, we know that organized people will always beat organized money," Omar tweeted on Tuesday night. "Tonight, our movement didn’t just win. We earned a mandate for change. Despite outside efforts to defeat us, we once again broke turnout records."

Omar is the latest Squad member to win re-election; Ocasio-Cortez won her primary in New York in June, and Tlaib won her race in Michigan last week, while Pressley is running unopposed in her primary in Massachusetts next month.

After her win in Michigan, Tlaib tweeted, "Headlines said I was the most vulnerable member of the Squad. My community responded last night and said our Squad is big. It includes all who believe we must show up for each other and prioritize people over profits. It’s here to stay, and it’s only getting bigger."

With Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib all expected to return to Congress in January, the Squad has solidified their staying power, after the progressive congresswoman of color's wins has been dismissed in the past as "flukes."

"When I won in 2018, many dismissed our victory as a 'fluke,'" Ocasio-Cortez tweeted amid her primary. "Our win was treated as an aberration, or bc my opponent 'didn’t try.' So from the start, tonight’s race was important to me. Tonight we are proving that the people’s movement in NY isn’t an accident. It's a mandate."

The Squad members aren't the only members of congress who have won on progressive platforms this year — come January, they'll be joined by two more progressive candidates of color who both displaced incumbent Democrats. Last month, Jamaal Bowman, a Black middle-school principal, defeated 16-term representative Eliot Engel in New York’s 16th district, and last week, Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush bested ten-term Democrat William Lacy Clay in Missouri’s first district, which includes St. Louis and Ferguson.

"The country is ready to become more progressive, and it is becoming more progressive," Bowman told New York Times. "The country is tired of Democrats taking corporate money. They don’t understand how someone can be in office 10 or 20 or 30 years and they’re struggling with housing and jobs and criminal justice."