COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Legislature will include a Somali American lawmaker for the first time next year.
Democrat Munira Abdullahi ran unopposed Tuesday in an Ohio House district that covers part of northeastern Columbus.
The city has the second-largest Somali population in the United States, behind Minneapolis.
Abdullahi, a 26-year-old youth director, is also the first Muslim woman to win a seat in the Ohio Legislature.
All 99 seats in the House and 17 of the 33 Senate seats were on the ballot in this election. Republicans were hoping to increase their majority in both chambers.
Republicans currently have a veto-proof majority in both chambers. They need 60 seats in the House and 20 in the Senate to override a governor’s veto, assuming a vote along party lines.
They used that power to override their own party’s governor, Mike DeWine, during the COVID-19 pandemic on a measure weakening the governor’s ability to respond to public health emergencies.
The legislative district maps for this election were used despite an Ohio Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
States go through a political mapmaking process every decade to reflect population change, and Ohio’s latest redistricting fight stretched into election season. A divided federal court panel ordered that the state’s elections go ahead using the third set of Statehouse maps approved by the GOP-dominated Ohio Redistricting Commission.
In an active second legislative session year, redistricting played out alongside lawmakers legalizing sports betting, allowing school district employees to carry guns, and debating measures about vaccination requirements, abortion, gun rights and school vouchers, among other bills.
The 2023-24 session is expected to include debate about a state budget and possible additional restrictions on abortion.
Democrat Munira Abdullahi, a 26-year-old woman running unopposed for a district that covers part of northeastern Columbus, is positioned to become the first Somali American, as well as Muslim woman, in the Legislature. The city has the second-largest Somali population in the United States, behind the Minneapolis area.
Democrat Ismail Mohamed, a lawyer running for District 3, could be the first Somali and Muslim man in the Legislature, should he win against his Republican opponent, J. Josiah Lanning.
Jim Obergefell, a Democrat whose landmark 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, is running for House District 89 on a platform of equality in his first move from LGBTQ activism to the political arena.
Obergefell faces Republican incumbent Rep. D.J. Swearingen in a district that leans 57% Republican, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, a political mapmaking website.