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 OmarOvernight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week Omar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy 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-CortezJD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary On The Money: Yellen to Congress: Raise the debt ceiling or risk 'irreparable harm' | Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag MORE (N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOmar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy Overnight Health Care: Fauci clashes with Paul - again | New York reaches .1B settlement with opioid distributors | Delta variant accounts for 83 percent of US COVID-19 cases Duckworth, Pressley introduce bill to provide paid family leave for those who experience miscarriage MORE (Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOmar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy House passes bill requiring EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water Ohio becomes battleground for rival Democratic factions 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.”