Dibble, Rybak endorse Ilhan Omar for House 60B race

State Sen. Scott Dibble and former Mayor R.T. Rybak have announced their support for Ilhan Omar’s candidacy for the state House 60B seat, which includes Nicollet Island, Cedar-Riverside and University of Minnesota-area neighborhoods.

Omar won 55 percent of the delegate votes at Saturday’s Senate District 60 DFL convention held at Northeast Middle School — just shy of the 60 percent needed to win the DFL endorsement.

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar

Omar, director of Women Organizing Women Network, is challenging longtime legislator Phyllis Kahn for the seat and Mohamud Noor, executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community of Minnesota, who also ran for the seat two years ago. Kahn came in second and Noor a distant third at the convention.

The candidates will face one another in the DFL primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

Dibble (DFL-61), who represents downtown-area and southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods, said Omar is “well qualified to represent the diverse community members who call District 60B their home” and a “coalition builder” who will advance a progressive agenda at the Capitol.

“I admire and honor Rep. Phyllis Kahn’s years of service and her work on many important policies. Now is a time to welcome a promising new leader to the table,” he said.

Rep. Phyllis Kahn
Rep. Phyllis Kahn

Rybak said Omar has a “rare combination” of a strong vision and ability to listen.

“We must make politics more accessible for everyone and eliminate existing barriers. I know Ilhan is dedicated to doing this and will be a champion for positive change,” he said.

Omar, who lives in the West Bank neighborhood with her husband and three children, works to empower East African women in civic leadership roles through her work as head of the Women Organizing Women Network.

Kahn, a Nicollet Island resident, was first elected to the Legislature in 1972. In a Facebook post, she wrote: “Even though emotions and tensions ran high, I’m proud to say that I never saw anyone treat each other disrespectfully. I cannot thank everyone enough for their dedication.”

In her time at the Capitol, Kahn has been a strong advocate for the environment and civil rights.

“We all know this is the year of change, the year to challenge the establishment. That’s why so many of you are here today,” she said at Saturday’s convention. “Well, guess what? I’ve been challenging the establishment since before I was elected and I’m still at it. If you want a relentless radical to represent you, I am that person. I’ve been the real agent of change on issue after issue.”

Mohamud Noor
Mohamud Noor

Noor, a former School Board member, lost to Kahn in the 2014 primary election. His top priorities including pushing for more investments in education and addressing the state’s disparities.