Posted on August 12, 2020

Ilhan Omar Wins Primary in Minnesota over Well-Funded Rival

Natalie Andrews, Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2020

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), a prominent member of the progressive “squad” in Congress who has sparred with President Trump, won her primary Tuesday, the Associated Press projected, putting her on track for a second term in Congress.

She defeated the attorney Antone Melton-Meaux, a well-funded rival who focused on her outsize national profile and controversial statements. With almost all precincts reporting, Ms. Omar had 57% of the vote to 39% for Mr. Melton-Meaux.


Mr. Melton-Meaux raised $4.1 million overall, nearly as much as Ms. Omar, who raised $4.2 million. He pulled in $3.2 million in the second quarter, compared with Ms. Omar’s $472,000 in the same period.

A Somali refugee, Ms. Omar came to the U.S. when she was 12 and later served as a policy aide to the Minneapolis City Council before winning election to the state legislature in 2016. After winning a race in 2018 to become the first Black Muslim woman to serve in Congress {snip}

{snip} In her re-election bid, she is backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.).


Mr. Melton-Meaux criticized Ms. Omar for announcing her own memoir in the weeks following the killing of George Floyd, who died at the hands of police in Ms. Omar’s Minneapolis-area district. Ms. Omar’s campaign countered that she was at protests sparked by Mr. Floyd’s death and worked with the community during that time as well.

Israel policy has drawn the fiercest disagreements. In her first term, Ms. Omar has been a prominent backer of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to punish Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, and some of her remarks related to the issue were seen as anti-Semitic and drew bipartisan rebukes. “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” she tweeted in reference to U.S. politicians defending Israel.

Ms. Omar apologized for or clarified some of her remarks and defended others as raising concerns about money in politics.

Mr. Melton-Meaux doesn’t support the BDS movement and has zeroed in on the comments during the campaign, and his campaign has drawn donations from pro-Israel groups. {snip}

“I’ve been an outspoken critic of those comments as many have in this community because they were hurtful in this community and they’ve happened on several occasions,” Mr. Melton-Meaux said.

The Omar campaign points to support that she has from the Jewish community in her district, including a recent open letter from more than 180 constituents backing her campaign, and says she apologized when she offended her Jewish colleagues and constituents last year.