Rep. Ilhan Omar beats back Democratic primary challenge in Minnesota

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Rep. Ilhan Omar on Tuesday defeated her Democratic primary challenger, attorney Antone Melton-Meaux, who garnered attention for outraising her during the campaign, the Associated Press projected.

The race has gotten attention in recent weeks: Melton-Meaux said he supported Omar’s first run for Congress in 2018 but criticized her for the number of votes she’s missed.

“She has been ineffective in Washington because she is divisive, and she’s focused on her celebrity,” Melton-Meaux told The Associated Press.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (right) is facing a highly contentious primary Tuesday night, even after being outraised by her opponent, attorney Antone Melton-Meaux (left).

Rep. Ilhan Omar (right) is facing a highly contentious primary Tuesday night, even after being outraised by her opponent, attorney Antone Melton-Meaux (left).

As a member of the four-woman progressive “Squad” in Congress, Omar was elected as one of the first Muslim American women in Congress, along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. Her outspoken criticism of President Trump and advocacy for far-left ideas have gained national attention, and the attention surrounding the Somali born progressive lawmaker – and her Twitter feed – have made her a target of Republicans and even some fellow Democrats.


And Omar’s no stranger to controversy, apologizing early in her congressional tenure for making comments viewed as anti-Semitic.

Omar has the backing of some of the biggest names in politics – such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, progressive leader Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – whom she joined on the campaign trail when the populist champion was running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

She also enjoys the support of leading Minnesota Democrats, such as Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, state House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Attorney General Keith Ellison. And she has the backing of local unions and the state party as she runs for a second two-year term representing Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District – which covers much of the city of Minneapolis and was ground zero for the nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.


But in the battle for campaign cash, Melton-Meaux has brought in a whopping $3.2 million in the April-June quarter of fundraising, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. That far surpassed Omar, who raised nearly half-a-million dollars during the same period of time. Melton-Meaux reported having $2 million in his campaign coffers as of the end of June, nearly double of Omar’s $1.1 million cash on hand.

On a local level, Melton-Meaux has earned the endorsement of the Star Tribune, Minneapolis’ largest newspaper.

“Whether it’s health care, criminal justice or affordable housing, Melton-Meaux appears progressive, but pragmatic,” the editorial board said. “While Omar wants to lead a movement, Melton-Meaux seeks to serve the Fifth District.”

The editorial board also knocked Omar’s “missteps,” including her inflammatory comments about Israel and her campaign finance issues.

Omar’s campaign knocked on doors — an act typical in any other election cycle but highly unusual during the coronavirus pandemic.

Omar’s campaign quietly returned to door-knocking in early July, with social distancing and face covering protocols.

“There’s an element that just can’t be re-created not being in person,” said Claire Bergren, Omar’s campaign manager, told the New York Times.

Melton-Meaux has pointed to the controversies surrounding the congresswoman as the reason why he decided to run for office. He’s argued that Omar’s “lost the trust of the Jewish community by her insensitive and harmful tropes.”

Omar also faced questions about payments made to her husband’s firm, which has reportedly received more than a million dollars from her campaign during the 2020 cycle. She was recently asked specifically about $600,000 that went to her husband’s firm in the first three weeks of July.


“I don’t pay my husband. I pay the firm to do work and that [$600,000] really is an example of that work,” she said at a recent debate. “It was the first time we placed a TV ad, which is surprising to me because that’s not something we’re used to in the 5th, and that money went to place that ad and to make sure we have digital ads, to make sure we have literature that’s being sent to our constituents, because it is get-out-the-vote efforts for us.”

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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