Despite state Rep. Jeff Hayden‘s experience as a state legislator and his monopoly on endorsements, he wasn’t without competition in his ultimately victorious run at the DFL nomination for Senate District 61 Tuesday.
Sadik Warfa came in second in the six-person DFL primary, garnering 28 percent of the vote. Warfa is a Somali-American and community activist who previously ran on the Independence Party platform for a House seat in the district.
Warfa picked up more votes than Hayden in six of the 23 precincts.
“I was running because I really care about our state, Minnesota is a great state, it has given me and my family so much,” Warfa told the Minnesota Independent. ”I’m a community activist, I care about the delivery of services of citizens in my district and I was trying to hopefully give new leadership in my district. The people of [Senate District] 61 decided the other way, and I congratulated [Hayden] for his win.”
Warfa said he was frustrated by the state shutdown, and had hoped to work across the aisle in the Republican-dominated legislature to bring economic recovery to South Minneapolis.
His strong showing was also a sign of growing political clout and engagement by Minnesota’s Somali-American community. Only last year, Minneapolis sent Hussein Samatar to the Minneapolis School Board—he was likely the first Somali-American elected to public office in the country.
“My actual candidacy was to tell the people, especially in the immigrant background, that everything is possible here and that they’re a part of society and that we must integrate the system,” Warfa said.
He said people in the community were disappointed with the loss, but that he reassured them that they’d learn from the mistakes.
“It’s all about doing what’s good for all of us, we’re all in this together,” Warfa said of politics in the state. “While I’m a Somali-American, I’m very proud of my heritage, but I’m truly an American like anybody else.”