News & Politics

Ibraheem Samirah Will Run for Virginia Senate

The former delegate, famous for interrupting Trump in 2019, thinks there's a lane for his brand of progressive politics.

Virginia Del. Ibraheem Samirah, D-Fairfax, yells as he interrupts President Donald Trump's addresses Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in Jamestown, Va., during a commemorative meeting of the Virginia General Assembly at Jamestown Settlement on the 400th anniversary of the meeting of the original House of Burgess. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Ibraheem Samirah will announce Monday morning that he plans to run for Virginia Senate. Samirah made a national splash in 2019 when he interrupted a speech by Donald Trump, then the US President, during an event in Virginia. His brand of progressivism rankled some in the commonwealth’s Democratic establishment, though, which lined up behind his opponent in the primary of 2021, Irene Shin. Shin went on to win his old seat.

Samirah originally planned to run for the 26th House District this year but decided to run for the 32nd Senate District after its incumbent, John Bell, announced last week that he would not run for reelection while he seeks treatment for prostate cancer.

Photograph courtesy Ibraheem Samirah.

In a phone call with Washingtonian, Samirah laid out his argument for why he thinks there’s a lane for someone who, as a Palestinian-American, can talk to people of color: Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration, he says, is trying to peel off people in communities of color by appealing to cultural issues that create a wedge between them and progressives. For example: The issue of admissions at Thomas Jefferson High School. “He’s using classic discriminatory tactics to make [some parents] hate the other to divide groups that are all discriminated against,” he says. In addition to offering open dialogue, Samirah says, he’d fight for more resources so desirable schools like TJ can admit more students. “If we have smart kids, give them more seats,” he says. 

Since he lost his primary, Samirah has returned full-time to dentistry. He has a practice in Columbia Heights and is close to opening an office in Loudoun, where he lives. “Delegate Samirah is a progressive champion whose voice is sorely missed in the Virginia General Assembly,” his campaign manager Kamran Fareedi says, adding that among his legislative priorities will be a “Virginian Green New Deal, state-level Medicare for All, and quality, affordable housing to his constituents.”

Samirah will face at least one other contender in the primary to replace Bell. Delegate Suhas Subramanyam has also announced he’ll run. In contrast to Subramanyam, who has made efforts at increasing bipartisanship, Samirah says he won’t work with Trump Republicans. “There is no center,” Samirah says. “Centrist solutions say you’re going to stay quiet and hope that the solution is going to come on its own.” 

The right, he says, “is not easygoing” about what it wants. Washingtonian noted that Samirah is not exactly known for being shy, either. “I stand up to Trump every day in my thoughts, and in my work,” he says.  

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.