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Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam Determined to Flip State Senate Seat Despite Loss in U.S. Congress Bid

Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam Determined to Flip State Senate Seat Despite Loss in U.S. Congress Bid

  • The 28-year-old daughter of Indian and Pakistani immigrants narrowly lost to State Sen. Valerie Foushee in one of the most expensive primaries in the country.

Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam may have lost her bid to the U.S. Congress from North Carolina’s 4th District, but her work in the state is just beginning. The daughter of Indian and Pakistani immigrants, Allam is now supporting former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley’s State Senate campaign. She is running against Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) who has an 8-point lead over Beasley in the state Senate election in November, according to a new East Carolina University (ECU) poll released on May 23, as reported by The Hill. “Even though we might not see the result we hoped for tonight, this is not a loss,” she tweeted.

Allam narrowly lost to State Sen. Valerie Foushee in the Democratic primary on May 17, in “one of the most expensive primaries in the country, setting up a competition between Foushee as the big money, establishment candidate and other candidates who were more reliant on individual contributions,” as reported by WRAL-TV. 

On her website, she noted how this election “showed just how powerful we are.” Talking about the power her campaign has built, Allam mentioned how the “right-wing super PACs and a billionaire living in the Bahamas had to spend over $3.6 million to defeat our movement in one election. They had to spend more money than anyone has ever spent in the history of a Congressional primary in North Carolina in order to win this race.” 

Allam, 28, and seven months pregnant, campaigned as the most progressive candidate. She secured endorsements from U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), as well as U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)

On the campaign trail, she spoke frequently about climate change, economic inequality and abortion rights. The Durham County commissioner, who is now pregnant, had an abortion in 2021. In television ads, she described her personal connection to the issue and said she proceeded with the medical procedure out of concern for her personal health.

Allam, the first Muslim woman ever elected to public office in North Carolina, assumed office as Durham County Commissioner on Dec. 7, 2020. Her current term ends on Dec.1, 2024. 

In addition to serving as commissioner, she also served in senior leadership in the NC Democratic Party and as chair of the Durham Mayor’s Council for Women.

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Allam grew up in Wake County and attended North Carolina public schools and then NC State University. There she led a campaign to partner with local healthcare workers to provide free healthcare to low-income community members. 

An event in 2015 changed her trajectory. Her friends Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha were murdered in their Chapel Hill home in an anti-Muslim hate crime. Deeply affected by the incident and determined to carry on their legacy, Allam threw herself into organizing to amplify underheard voices and increase community safety through solidarity.

She served as a political director for the Bernie Sanders campaign and then was elected Third Vice-Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, the first Muslim elected to the party’s Executive Council. She currently serves on the board of directors for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.

She lives in Durham with her husband and two adorable dogs, Otis and Nala.

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