Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) might not have her seat in Congress for much longer. In a new development, former Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels is launching another primary challenge against Omar after having been narrowly defeated by her during the 2022 midterm elections.
Samuels, a more centrist figure, seems to believe that Omar has made some key mistakes that could push the Fifth Congressional District’s voters to his side. Given the results of the previous election, it appears this campaign might have a chance at succeeding.
A major announcement Sunday as former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels, who nearly beat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in 2022, is running for the seat again.
Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District is overwhelmingly Democratic. The independent Cook political partisan index ranks it as a plus 30 Democratic seat. That means it is 30 points more Democratic than the average district across the country. And that means the Democratic primary, which is in August 2024, is the contest that will almost certainly decide who goes to Congress from Minneapolis and its inner ring suburbs.
In 2022, there was very nearly a stunning primary upset. Samuels almost beat Omar, losing by just 2,500 votes. Now Samuels announced he is running against Omar again on WCCO Sunday Morning at 10:30 a.m.
Samuels’ decision seems to be motivated, at least in part, by Omar’s controversial positions and rhetoric on various matters, especially the Israel-Hamas war. During an interview with the Star Tribune, he noted that Omar has “dug a deeper hole, especially in this most recent [Israel-Hamas] crisis,” and that she “continues to demonstrate that there’s an urgent need for new leadership.”
Samuels is joining two other Democrats seeking to oust Omar, Air Force veteran Tim Peterson and attorney Sarrah Gad.
Omar, for her part, has faced numerous criticisms and allegations of antisemitism, especially after she voted against a House resolution supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip. She justified her vote by saying that while she mourned the Israeli lives taken by Hamas, she also wanted the resolution to acknowledge the lives of Palestinians taken by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
At the moment, it is not clear whether the Israel-Hamas war will even be a hot-button issue by the time Election Day rolls around. But it might still be an issue Samuels can use to diminish confidence in Omar’s candidacy. While many in her district might be supportive of, or ambivalent to, her stance on Israel, the current conflict might motivate those who support the Jewish state’s right to defend itself to show up at the polls.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed at this point. Omar is currently in her third term, having won three elections. She might still be looked upon favorably by her constituents. Still, the fact that she barely held onto her seat during the midterms could indicate that her district is ready for a change, which is why Samuels seems to smell blood in the water.
Another element in this equation is that Omar is an avowed far-leftist progressive, a member of “The Squad.” Samuels, on the other hand, represents a more centrist moderate approach to approaching politics. This dynamic could also play a key role in influencing voter’s decisions.