Omar ekes out win in surprisingly close Minnesota primary
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) was projected to win her primary in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, setting up a likely third term in the House for a progressive member who has proven to be a lightning rod for GOP criticism since entering Congress.
NBC and CNN both called the race shortly before 11:30 p.m. EDT.
The race proved unexpectedly close, however, with her Democratic opponent Don Samuels trailing her by only a few percentage points.
A member of the “squad,” a progressive group of Democrats in the House, Omar became the first Somali American to be elected to Congress in 2018 as well as one of the first two Muslim women.
She became a vocal proponent on issues like dismantling the Minneapolis police in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white now-former police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes; student loan forgiveness; and expanding the Supreme Court.
Samuels, a former Minneapolis city councilman, was considered her most competitive challenger, notching endorsements from the Star Tribune’s editorial board, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) and former Minnesota Secretary of State Joan Growe.
Samuels touted his background as a self-taught musician, his prior toy designing career, City Council experience and position as an executive of a nonprofit that offers microgrants to low-income individuals for areas in education, small business and transportation.
Omar is likely to win a third term in the solidly Democratic district; the data website FiveThirtyEight notes her seat has a partisan lean of plus 57 points.