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Minneapolis Star Tribune endorses Ilhan Omar's primary challenger

Minneapolis Star Tribune endorses Ilhan Omar's primary challenger
© Greg Nash

The Minneapolis Star Tribune is endorsing Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarJamaal Bowman's mother dies of COVID-19: 'I share her legacy with all of you' To address global fragility, we must start locally Omar calls for released Saudi women's rights activist to be allowed to leave country MORE’s (D-Minn.) challenger ahead of next week's primary, saying the first-term lawmaker "wants to lead a movement" instead of serving her constituents.

The editorial board on Wednesday backed Antone Melton-Meaux, praising his "strong progressive values," for Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, which encompasses most of Minneapolis.

"After careful consideration and interviews with both, the Star Tribune Editorial Board recommends Melton-Meaux, a first-time candidate with strong progressive values that align well with the district, as well as consensus-building skills honed as a professional mediator," the editorial board wrote.

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"Melton-Meaux brings a different sensibility to this race, one grounded in helping resolve disputes to move forward — a skill this country is much in need of," it continues. "While Omar wants to lead a movement, Melton-Meaux seeks to serve the Fifth District."

The editorial board did not endorse anyone in the 5th District for the 2018 general election, despite issuing endorsements for candidates in other Minnesota races. Omar won with 78 percent of the vote in November 2018. In that year's primary, the paper endorsed Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

She is the favorite to secure the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, but her challenger raised a significant amount of money in the second quarter, raising concerns among some liberal groups that are backing Omar.

Omar has grabbed national headlines during her short tenure in Congress as a member of "the squad," a group compromised of other first-year progressive Democrats: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez criticizes opening of migrant facility for children under Biden Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Ocasio-Cortez targets Manchin over Haaland confirmation MORE (N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyEconomist makes the case for federal jobs guarantee Clintons, Tyler Perry among mourners at Cicely Tyson memorial Democrats warn of 'whataboutism' ahead of Trump defense MORE (Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibJamaal Bowman's mother dies of COVID-19: 'I share her legacy with all of you' Democrats urge Biden FDA to drop in-person rule for abortion pill LIVE COVERAGE: Senate opens Trump's second impeachment trial MORE (Mich.).

But she's also drawn attention for controversial remarks about Israel and faced campaign finance issues.

"Omar’s 2018 victory launched her into the national spotlight as the first Muslim woman and first refugee elected to Congress," the editorial board wrote. "But her time has been marred by missteps, including remarks on Israel widely regarded as anti-Semitic, an outsized number of missed votes, and campaign-finance issues."

“It is just these kinds of ethical distractions that the Fifth District could do without,” the board added. “In the Editorial Board interview, Omar took little responsibility for her rocky start, instead largely blaming her critics and saying her failing was perhaps in not realizing what a ‘special unicorn’ she would be in Congress.”