Arab and Muslim candidates key to U.S. midterm election outcome

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CHICAGO: For President Joe Biden, a Democrat, the midterm elections are crucial and difficult. Traditionally, the party that controls the White House at this point usually loses control of the House and Senate. Now Republicans are poised to take both from Democrats in Tuesday’s election.

Arab and Muslim Americans will play an important role in helping define the outcome, bolstering the congressional seats they currently control while expanding their community’s role in local state and local offices.

Here’s a look at some of the important competitions to watch out for:

In Pennsylvania In the race for the US Senate, Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Turkish-born Muslim medical TV personality, is the Republican nominee. He faces Democrat John Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor since 2019. A poll shows Oz leading Fetterman in the election, though Fetterman this week received an endorsement from television powerhouse Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey initially helped Oz launch his own career as a television personality when he first appeared on her show in 2004. Oz began hosting “The Dr. Oz Show” in 2009.

If Oz wins, he will become the first Muslim US senator. Five Arab Americans have served in the US Senate. All five are of Lebanese descent although one is part-Palestinian and three are Republicans.

According to the US Census, there are at least 84,472 residents who identify as Arabs from Egypt, Iraq and Morocco, and 83,817 who identify as Muslims from the Arab world and Asia. Pennsylvania is one of six states, including Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin and Nebraska, that Donald Trump won in 2016 but swung for Biden in 2020.

Arab and Muslim Americans will have their say in Tuesday’s election in races for Congress, state legislator and local municipal contests.

Since the 1950s, 28 Arab Americans have served or continue to serve in the United States House of Representatives. The majority were Lebanese.

In California new 48th district, Republican incumbent Congressman Darrell Issa faces a challenge from Democratic newcomer Stephen Houlahan. Issa should keep his seat. Issa served from 2001 to 2019 but came out of retirement to win the job, beating fellow Arab-American Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar in 2020.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, an Assyrian Christian Democrat, is seeking re-election in California’s new 16th district. She faces a challenge from Republican Rishi Kumar.

In Michigan, Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, elected in 2019, faces a minor challenge in the newly drawn 12th District from Republican Steven Elliot and Working Class Party nominee Gary Walkowicz. Tlaib is Palestinian.

As Michigan has the second highest concentration of Arab Americans, voter excitement will be focused on local state legislative and municipal contests. Among them, several candidates for the Michigan State House including several Democrats, Alabas Farhat in the 3rd district, Ghassan (Gus) Tarraf in the 4th district, Bilal Hammoud in the 15th district, Abraham Aiash in the 9th district and Aisha Farooqi in the 57th. . District. The 3rd, 4th, and 15th Wards comprise parts of Dearborn. Aiash is running for re-election and is the first Yemeni-American to hold a legislative seat there.

Pollster and political consultant Dennis Denno is running with Democratic Party support for a vacancy on Michigan State University’s eight-member board of trustees. There are also numerous school board candidates, including Nadia Berry and Hassan Beydoun for full terms, and Danielle Elzayat and Hassan Nasser for partial terms on the Crestwood School Board.

In IllinoisRepublican Congressman Darin LaHood, who is Lebanese-American, is expected to easily take his seat in the new 16th District against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Haderlein.

Harvard graduate Abdelnasser Rashid beat a veteran Democratic incumbent to win the party’s nomination for the 21st House District, which covers Chicago’s influential southwest suburban area, which has one of the largest concentrations American Palestinians. Democrat Nabeela Syed is a candidate for the Illinois House 51st District legislative seat and is being contested by Republican Chris Bos.

In IowaDemocrat Sami Scheetz is running to become the first Arab-American state representative in the 78th district.

In Minnesota, Democratic Congressmen Ilhan Omar in the 5th District and Betty McCollum in the 4th District, some of the most effective voices advocating for Arab and Muslim American issues in Congress, are unlikely to defeat their opponents easily. Omar is challenged by Republican Cicely Davis, and McCollum is challenged by Republican May Lor Xiong.

However, a recent poll shows Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison could lose his re-election bid to Republican challenger Jim Schultz. Ellison is the first Muslim attorney general in the state and the first to gain a statewide office there.

In Louisiana, Congressman Garret Graves, a Republican of Lebanese descent, is seeking re-election in the 6th District, contested by Republican Brian Beizer and Libertarian Rufus Craig. No Democrats are running.

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