Former Michigan state representative Rashida Tlaib will become the US’s first ever Muslim woman elected to Congress after she won a Democratic primary election to represent Michigan’s 13th district.
Running in a crowded field of candidates vying to replace John Conyers Jr, who served from 1965, until retirement last year following claims of sexual harrasment, Ms Tlaib took 33.6 per cent of the vote following a strong grassroots campaign in which she raised over $1m.
There are no Republican candidates contesting the seat, so Ms Tlaib will enter Congress unopposed following a special election on November 6 2018, when she will formally replace Mr Conyers.
Her nearest rival was Detroit Council President Brenda Jones, who despite wider name recognition and several prominent endorsements, took 28.5 per cent of the vote.
Ms Tlaib, the daughter of two Palestinian immigrants, was born in Detroit in 1976, where her father had a job at the Ford motor company. She studied politics at Wayne State University, and then law, graduating in 2004.
On Tuesday evening, she said her day had been filled with emotion and described it as “happy chaos,” she told The Detroit News.
“Especially meeting voters and talking to them, they are inspired,” she told the paper before the polls closed.
“One resident said she’s happy for me and has already written. It’s been amazing to interact with families at polling locations. I feel very much supported.”
Ms Tlaib previously held a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives, first winning in 2008 and becoming just the he second Muslim woman to serve in a state legislature nationwide, after Jamilah Nasheed of Missouri.
The 13th Congressional District she will represent includes a large southern area of suburban Detroit in Wayne County. After boundary lines were redrawn in 2012, the 13th is the only congressional district entirely within one county.
Her victory comes amid what is perceived to be a major increase in Islamophobia across the US, in the wake of Donald Trump’s election in 2016 and a general rise in hostility towards immigration.