Rep. Ilhan Omar leading Don Samuels in 5th District DFL primary race

Hunter Woodall, Star Tribune on

Published in Political News

MINNEAPOLIS — Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar faced a spirited challenge from former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels in Tuesday's 5th District DFL primary.

The nationally known congresswoman is seeking a third term to represent the reliably blue 5th District seat that includes Minneapolis and nearby suburbs. Omar held a narrow lead over Samuels with most of the results in as this edition went to press.

Hovering over the contentious primary was Omar's support for last year's failed Minneapolis ballot question to replace the city's police department with a new public safety agency after George Floyd's death, and her unsuccessful effort to oust Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey by endorsing two of his challengers.

"You know what? You put in the work and you will produce," said Omar before the polls closed. "We're hoping for the best."

Standing on the corner of NE. Broadway and Central Avenue with her yellow Labrador Teddy and her husband, Omar said she'd been out talking to voters all day and doesn't get nervous on Election Day.

"You do all the work and you wait for the results," she said. "That's why we go on hard."


Omar, 39, is the first Somali American and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.

Samuels, 73, is a Jamaican immigrant who has organized for over two decades against gun violence after a bullet pierced his home in north Minneapolis.

"Nobody believes you can win," Samuels said before the polls closed when asked about running against Omar. "And people believed that the status quo was set, that we had to settle for what we had, and in fact I think that's one of the reasons that I'm the only real contestant in this race against her."

Samuels has tried to portray himself as less politically volatile than Omar while evoking their differing views on last November's policing ballot measure. Omar was a vocal supporter of the measure, while Samuels helped organize the successful effort to defeat the question.


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