MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar is one of the highest-profile members of Congress. The Democrat swept to victory in the Fifth District two years ago, but now faces a well-funded challenger in next month’s primary.
Omar’s first term has been marked by unprecedented attacks.
At a July 2019 North Carolina rally, President Donald Trump blasted her for her stands on Israel, saying, “Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.” As soon as Trump said it, the chant of “send her back” erupted from the crowd.
Just days after, she received a tumultuous warm welcome at Twin Cities International Airport, to chants of “Welcome home, Ilhan.”
Her tweets about Israel, some of which she apologized for, and some of her pro-Palestinian positions, are helping fuel the fundraising against her.
“I think the truths I tell are an inconvenience,” Omar said.
She is unapologetic about her progressive agenda, which includes supporting Medicare for All, tuition-free college, and locally defunding the Minneapolis Police Department.
“We have a police department that has lost the trust of the public, that has lost the trust of other institutions they’re supposed to work with,” she said.
It’s her refugee roots that fuels her passions and policies. Two of her bills, one already a law, guarantees free school lunches, even during a pandemic.
“I am someone who has a deep understanding of being hungry as a child,” she said.
Omar’s campaign says her internal polling shows she has a 37-point lead over Antone Melton-Meaux. If that sounds far-fetched, she has a history of outsized wins. In 2018, she easily beat a crowded primary field, and she won the November election with 78% of the vote.
On May 30, in the midst of the rioting after George Floyd’s death, she held a news conference on Lake Street, which was praised by Gov. Tim Walz for curbing violence.
“From the the first day this began, I have been asking for a community-centered solution to de-escalation,” Omar said.
But Omar’s personal life continues to be fodder for critics. Seven months after she and prominent progressive political consultant Tim Mynett denied being in a relationship, they married.
Her three children are 17-year-old Isra, an award-winning teen climate activist; 13-year-old Adnan; and 7-year-old Ilwad.
Omar and her supporters believe her critics have only fueled her support.
“Here in Minnesota, we don’t just welcome immigrants, we send them to Washington,” Omar said on Election Night 2018.
The Cook Political Report says the Fifth District includes 26% more Democrats than Republicans.
As a result, the Aug. 11 primary may well choose this fall’s ultimate winner.
Beyond Melton-Meaux, Omar faces three other Democratic primary challengers: Les Lester, John Mason and Daniel McCarthy.