Ilhan Omar headed for primary rematch after narrow 2022 victory

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Former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels announced Sunday that he would launch a primary challenge to progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), after losing the primary race narrowly in 2022.

Samuels, a moderate Democrat, announced his bid for Omar’s congressional seat in an interview with local radio station WCCO.

In 2022, Omar eked out a 2-point win over the former city council member. Samuels said Sunday that his narrow loss showed that Omar is “beatable.”

“Ilhan hasn’t helped herself,” Samuels said. “She has made missteps, even after the last race.”

“And so there’s some folks who are coming [to support me] because of what I am, who I am and what I will do, and some are coming because of what she does and will do,” he added.

He also noted that he is jumping into the race earlier than he did last time, giving him more time to build relationships with voters and donors. Samuels also took aim at Omar for being divisive, pointing to her criticism of former President Obama for saying that defunding the police was a “snappy slogan.”

“My opponent is, is known for divisiveness and rancor personally, locally, nationally and internationally,” he said.

He dodged a question on whether he would support a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war, a call that Omar and other members of the “squad” have backed since the onset of the war Oct. 7.

“So we have to remember that Israel is our ally. Hamas is, in fact, a terrorist organization. But our No. 1 allies are justice and peace,” he said.

Omar accused Samuels of receiving donations from conservative donors including GOP megadonor Harlan Crow, whose close ties to Justice Clarence Thomas have been exposed by ProPublica this year, in a statement to The Hill.

“Right-wing donors have targeted me since I first entered public life, so I am not surprised that my challenger previously received contributions from Harlan Crow, the same far-right billionaire who bankrolled Clarence Thomas,” Omar said.

“If we’re going to stop Donald Trump, we need record turnout, and I am confident in our ability to drive turnout, particularly in a presidential election year,” she added.

Updated: 1:27 p.m.

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