Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, won the Democratic nomination for the House in Michigan's 13th congressional district on Tuesday, setting her on path to become the first Muslim woman in Congress after the general election takes place in November.
Tlaib is all but guaranteed a seat in Congress in November's general election as there is no Republican challengers and District 13 is historically a rock-solid Democratic seat.
Tlaib, 42, is a mother of two and in 2008 became the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan state legislative. She served three terms in the legislature, and was promoted to Democratic Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, as the eldest of 14 children by parents who were Palestinian immigrants. She earned her B.A. in political science from Wayne State University and her law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School. She has previously worked as a staffer for former state representative Steve Tobocman.
She was endorsed by the Bernie Sanders-aligned Justice Democrats and had the unofficial support of Democratic National Committee Deputy Chairman Keith Ellison.
Tlaib's campaign focus was to work for grassroot communities, including securing a $15 minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, ending corporate welfare, debt-free college and vocational training, and preventing Cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
She also vouched to work toward overturning the Muslim ban, securing LGBT rights and immigration reform.
Being someone who had a chance of breaking one of the last religious barriers in Congress, her religious faith could have been central to her campaign, but Tlaib chose not to make her Islamic faith the core of her political pitch. However, that did not mean that she shied away from talking about it from time to time.
"It's not about just being out there and flaunting your faith," Tlaib said, CBS Detroit reported. "I always tell people that I'm exposing Islam in such a pivotal way, an impactful way, through public service."
Leading up to election night, not everyone downplayed the significance Tlaib's win held for Congress' future. "She's a perfect example of how to systematically build political power," said Zaki Barzinji, the White House liaison to American Muslims under former President Barack Obama. "She's not just jumping into a congressional race out of nowhere, she literally spent more than a decade working her way up."
"It's a lesson I wish our broader American Muslim community would learn because many folks get frustrated that we don't have representation at the highest levels of politics and government, when we rarely put in the effort to start at the ground floor and work our way up," Barzinji added.
Tlaib's win has been heralded as adding to a perfect storm that is building against President Donald Trump and his divisive policies such as "zero tolerance" on immigration and the travel ban on a number of Muslim countries.
"You don't need to sell out. You don't need to change who you are to run for office," Tlaib said after winning the Democratic primary race on Tuesday. "It's going to be kind of cool, after being kicked out of a trump rally, to show up on the floor of the U.S. Congress."
In the past, she has not shied away from attacking the president's political agendas. Back in 2016, Tlaib was arrested for disrupting a Trump speech in downtown Detroit. She was caught shouting "our kids deserve better" at POTUS and encouraging him to read the Constitution.
She also protested against the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the president's travel ban last week, saying she will introduce legislation to repeal it if she's elected to Congress.
"While Democrats are looking for leaders who will stand up to Donald Trump and our nation's most pressing problems, Rashida has an unparalleled record fighting for her constituents and her values, taking on billionaires and multinational corporations, and winning," her campaign's website read.