Rep. Ilhan Omar narrowly survives Democratic primary challenge

representing Ilhan Omar Minnesota, whose outspoken, progressive style of government inspires both deep loyalty and passionate opposition, narrowly won its Democratic primary race on Tuesday.

Omar beat former Minneapolis councilman Don Samuels for the Democratic nomination in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district.

Samuels exceeded expectations by holding Omar to a very slim margin of victory. Omar beat his challenger in 2020 by a much wider margin of nearly 20 percentage points.

Although Omar had spent over $2 million at the end of July, she chose not to air a single television commercial. The strategy sparked some nervousness among its progressive supporters as an influx of election results showed a close race on Tuesday.

But by the end of the evening, it turned out that Omar had prevailed.

“She has an incredibly good voting campaign, heavily driven by social media, and she is once again able to use that to her advantage,” said David Schultz, professor of political science at Hamline University in St. Paul. .

The result somewhat waters down the narrative that rising crime in Minneapolis has sparked a backlash against the city’s community of left-leaning activists and politicians. Omar’s victory is consistent with recent polls showing Democratic primary voters are more focused on defending abortion rights than on public safety and other issues.

“It’s still a relatively liberal neighborhood,” Schultz added. “It’s a relatively young neighborhood.

Since the seat centered in Minneapolis is heavily Democratic, Omar’s victory in the primary all but assures him of a return to Congress after the general election in November. She must face Republican candidate Cicely Davis, a conservative activist.

Omar’s victory is a show of strength for the left-wing bloc of House Democrats known as the “Squad”, of which Omar is one of four original members. The other three original members of the “Squad,” Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Minn.), held a rally for Omar in Minneapolis on Saturday.

“The progressive agenda — whether on issues surrounding Israel or police behavior — still holds true,” Schultz said.

Samuels presented himself as a Democrat who would “make a difference,” rather than just “make a point.” Samuels’ turn of phrase implied that Omar’s penchant for controversial statements on foreign policy in particular hampered his ability to deliver for the district.

He and his allies have also focused heavily on his support for traditional policing and his opposition to Question 2, the 2021 ballot initiative that would have abolished the Minneapolis Police Department and replaced it with a new charged agency. to treat crime as a holistic public health problem. Samuels, who unsuccessfully sued to block Question 2 from appearing on the ballot, opposed passing the initiative. Omar supported him.

The defeat of Question 2 and the re-election of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey despite Omar’s decision Support for two candidates running against him, inspired leading figures in the city’s Democratic establishment to rally behind Samuels. Frey, former Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and a number of labor unions approved Samuels’ offergiving him an official imprimatur as lawyer Antone Melton-Meaux, Omar’s challenger in 2020, had missed. Former Frey campaign manager Joe Radinovitch ran Samuels’ campaign.

Samuels also had last-minute support from a super PAC called Make a Difference MN05, which spent $420,000 on a TV advertising touting Samuels’ opposition to restructuring police department funding.

But while the ad increased Samuels’ visibility, it did not explicitly criticize Omar.

The spot too opened up Samuels to questions about his liberal credentials. Former Cargill Chairman Gregory Page, who made a donation for many Republican candidates, was a major backer of the pro-Samuels super PAC.




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