OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
In her bid for re-election, Democratic incumbent Ilhan Omar of Minnesota’s 5th congressional district faces not one, but three strong opponents in the primary.
The progressive representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) will be challenged in the next primary by former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels, who narrowly lost in the 2022 primary. Samuels made the announcement on Sunday.
Moderate Democrat Samuels announced his candidacy for Congressman Omar’s seat during an interview with WCCO, a local radio station. By a razor-thin margin of two points in 2022, Omar had defeated the former city council member. In the aftermath of his narrow defeat, Samuels asserted on Sunday that Omar is “beatable.”
“Ilhan hasn’t helped herself,” Samuels said. “She has made missteps, even after the last race. And so some folks 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.”
Furthermore, he made it clear that he is entering the race earlier than before, which will allow him more time to cultivate connections with supporters and voters. Samuels further attacked Omar for being a polarizing figure, citing her attack on Obama for calling police budget cuts a “snappy slogan.”
“My opponent is known for divisiveness and rancor personally, locally, nationally, and internationally,” he said.
A longtime Minnesota broadcast journalist who is Muslim and an immigrant from Iraq who supports Israel has also declared her intention to challenge Ilhan Omar in the upcoming election, calling her the most antisemitic lawmaker in the House.
Republican Dalia al-Aqidi, who fled Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule in Iraq and emigrated to the United States, and Omar have “staunchly opposing viewpoints on the Israel-Hamas conflict.”
“This is the first time two Muslim Americans are running against each other for a congressional seat, and it’s in a district with a significant Muslim population. But Al-Aqidi, a native of Iraq who fled Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime in 1988, says that distinction shouldn’t matter. She’d rather focus on the issues: She’s a pro-school choice, wants to eliminate Critical Race Theory from being taught in classrooms (even though it is mainly taught just at the university level), reduce inflation, and secure our borders,” the outlet added.
“My religion should not matter to anyone but myself,” al-Aqidi told Politico’s Women Rule column. “If I was a white woman, if I was a black woman, if I was a white man, saying what I’m saying now? I’d be called a white supremacist, a hater, a racist, a bigot.”
The GOP contender launched her campaign about a month ago because she strongly believes that the people in her Minneapolis district should not be represented by Omar, who she has accused of being Congress’ biggest anti-Semite after voting against a resolution to support Israel after it was attacked by the Palestinian-backed Hamas.
“While I was here, Ilhan Omar voted against the U.S. House resolution that condemned Hamas. And that tells you a lot about who Ilhan Omar is,” Al-Aqidi told Politico while she was touring Israel late last month. “I come here as a Muslim, as someone who understands what it means to be a radical Muslim. Unfortunately, the majority of people in the United States cannot comprehend the difference between being a Muslim or being an extremist.”
“I’m Muslim, and I was here when 9/11 happened. I was not muted just because I was a Muslim. I was not mistreated because of my identity or because of my religion. I love America. I came to America because I fled the hostility and oppression in the Middle East. I don’t want to come here and be oppressed by so-called Muslims,” Al-Aqidi added.