Washington (SONNA)-Rep. Ilhan Omar on Tuesday soundly defeated a well-funded primary challenger, the latest in a series of victories for liberals looking to secure their foothold in Congress and move the Democratic Party further left.
The Minnesota Democrat was leading Anton Melton-Meaux 57 percent to 39 percent with 96 percent of precincts reported when the race was called, putting to bed weeks of speculation that her career on Capitol Hill could be cut short by an opponent who argued Omar was more interested in fame than representing her district.
Residents of the Minneapolis-area district, however, chose the Somali refugee and first Muslim woman in Congress over Melton-Meaux, who raised a staggering $3.2 million last quarter from Omar critics around the nation. The race had become one of the most expensive House primaries this year, with each candidate bringing in north of $4 million.
The matchup in the Gopher State’s 5th District represented the second time this summer that a member of the “Squad” of high-profile liberal freshmen has had to ward off a primary challenge. In Michigan, Rep. Rashida Tlaib — who faced blowback for referring to Trump with an expletive on the first day of the new Congress in 2019 — soundly defeated a candidate similarly casting her as controversial.
Yet if anything, those challenges have only solidified the strength of the party’s left flank, which has grown in prominence and power since 2018 after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked Washington by defeating all-but-anointed speaker-in-waiting Joseph Crowley in a New York district that takes in parts of the Bronx and Queens.
The latest example of the liberal surge came last week in Missouri, when 44-year-old Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush unseated Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, the 64-year-old heir to a St. Louis political dynasty. The upset represented the fifth time a liberal candidate ousted an establishment Democrat since President Trump took office.
The same group that propelled Bush to power has quickly turned its sights to the northeast and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal’s Democratic primary in Massachusetts. There, they hope to stage yet another coup against an establishment incumbent as they seek to build their numbers in the lower chamber.
This week, Bush became the latest high-profile Democrat to do virtual and online rallies for Omar. Melton-Meaux had sought to cast Omar as a divisive figure, playing up comments she made about Jews that many viewed as anti-Semitic.
However, Omar in recent days has been touting the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other high-profile Democrats to help guide her across the finish line.
Melton-Meaux, meanwhile, was hit with a last-minute legal snag, as the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the official name of the state Democratic Party, alleged in a Federal Election Commission complaint that he violated federal election laws by hiding the identities of his political consultants.
The Minnesota race was one of several primaries happening Tuesday across the country. But while Democratic leaders may cheer Omar’s return to Congress, Republicans found themselves with more of a mixed bag of results.
Source: Washington post