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7th District DFL endorses Jill Abahsain in bid to regain Congressional seat

Delegates to the House Seventh District Congressional convention in Willmar endorsed Jill Abahsain of Sauk Centre in their bid to unseat first-term incumbent Republican Michelle Fischbach

Jill Abahsain 004
Jill Abahsain in a campaign photo photographed in 2020.
Source: JillForMnSenate12 website
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WILLMAR — Minnesota Democrats are looking to Jill Abahsain of Sauk Centre in their bid to defeat Republican Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach and return District 7 to the blue column.

Abahsain won the unanimous endorsement of Democrat-Farmer-Labor delegates Saturday at the Congressional District 7 convention held in Willmar.

CD7 Convention
Jill Abahsain of Sauk Centre won the DFL endorsement for the Seventh Congressional District House seat during a convention held May 14, 2022 in Willmar. Abahsain was assisting a friend in hospice in British Columbia, Canada, and unable to attend the convention, but provided a video in which she expressed her campaign goals.
Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

In a video to the convention, Abahsain pledged to fight hard on the campaign trail. “It will be the beginning of taking back our CD7 seat,” she said. Collin Peterson had held the seat for 30 years until his defeat by Fischbach in the 2020 election.

Convention organizers said Abahsain was assisting a friend in hospice in British Columbia, Canada, when she agreed to seek the endorsement and could not attend the District 7 convention.

In her video, Abahsain said rural health care needs, education, and the advancement of small-town life, rural communities and family farms will be among her primary themes in the election.

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CD7 Convention
The DFL Congressional District 7 endorsement convention was held in Willmar High School on May 14, 2022. Organizers said attendance was down due to the major wind storm that had struck much of western Minnesota only two days earlier, damaging property and homes of some who had been expected.
Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

She also cited justice and fairness concerns.

“There is now this theocratic mindset that is creeping into our legislative body as well as into our judicial rulings, as we’ve seen recently,” she said. “I’m going to fight tooth and nail to make sure this sort of theocratic manner of governance will not get into our system.”

Delegates from her home county of Stearns County nominated her and spoke about her background in education both in the U.S. and Middle East.

This is her second bid for public office. She ran unsuccessfully against Torrey Westrom for the state Senate District 12 seat in 2020.

“She was not intimidated by the Trumpsters honking and yelling during her campaign,” said Mitchel ‘Skip’ Manoski, who joined Verane Hasbergen, also of the Stearns County DFL party, in nominating Abahsain. “She will not be intimidated by anything that Michelle Fischbach throws at her.”

Abahsain, 68, is director of the Sauk Centre History Museum and Research Center. Her campaign website for her state legislative bid stated that she had followed an academic life into the Middle East. She was widowed in 2007, but continued to work as an editor and columnist for an English language newspaper in Egypt. She returned home after the Egyptian Revolution of 2010-11, and taught adult education in Alexandria.

Secretary of State Steve Simon and Leah Midgarden, treasurer for the DFL party in the state, were the two most prominent DFL’ers to speak in person to the estimated 150-plus attendees at the convention. Simon told the audience his concerns about the “cloud of disinformation” propagated about issues in the state. He told delegates he wanted their support. “They are coming after me,” he said.

Midgarden also expressed concerns about authoritarianism.

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Abahsain’s interest in the DFL endorsement was not announced until the convention had gotten underway. There had been three candidates who had previously announced interest in the CD7 endorsement but opted out prior to the convention. The most known of the three was Mark Lindquist, who decided to work overseas to provide help to Ukraine instead of seeking office.

CD 7 Convention
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon spoke to those attending the DFL's endorsement convention for Congressional District 7 in Willmar on May 14, 2022.
Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune
Jill Abahsain in an outside portrait photo photographed in 2020.
Jill Abahsain in an outside campaign portrait photo photographed in 2020.
Source: JillForMnSenate12 website
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Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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