Over the weekend, local Minneapolis Republicans endorsed Abdimalik Mohamed Askar in his run for state House in Minneapolis.

His name might be familiar: he ran for president of Somalia a few years ago. Republican Party chair Keith Downey said he is the first Somali-American the party has backed.

 "We are so pleased that Abdimalik Askar has stepped forward to run. It breaks new ground for Republicans to have endorsed someone from the Somali community, but more importantly he would represent his district so well," Downey said.

Askar is running in a heavily Democratic district. In 2012, longtime DFL Rep. Phyllis Kahn won re-election with 77 percent of the vote and Democratic President Obama won 75 percent of district's votes. This year, Kahn faces an endorsement challenge from Minneapolis School Board member Mahamud Noor.

"The reason why I'm running is very simple: I would like to improve...our district," Askar said in a video on his campaign web site. He said he would focus on education, including charter schools and school choice, crime reduction, creating opportunity for young people and advocating for small businesses.

He also said he shares anti-abortion values with Republicans and that he believes marriage should be only between a man and a woman. In 2012, a vast majority of the district rejected a ban on same-sex marriage. Last year, Minnesota legalized same sex marriage.

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