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Ilhan Omar Won A Bitter Primary To Keep Her Seat In Congress

Omar beat a well-funded challenger in her Democrat-heavy Minnesota congressional district.

Last updated on August 12, 2020, at 8:27 a.m. ET

Posted on August 11, 2020, at 9:50 p.m. ET

Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

Ilhan Omar beat back a well-funded primary challenger on Tuesday in Minneapolis by a comfortable margin, virtually guaranteeing a second term in Congress.

Antone Melton-Meaux had raised millions of dollars for a campaign fueled in large part by dislike of Omar, one of the first Muslim women in Congress and a member of the so-called Squad of Democratic women of color. In her first two years in Congress, Omar was accused of anti-Semitic comments and campaign finance irregularities, and had also been the target of racist attacks from conservatives.

Two other members of the Squad, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, also won high-profile primaries — both by significant margins.

But in Minneapolis, Omar’s race had appeared to tighten significantly: She lost the endorsement of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, her district’s major newspaper, and spent money on ads attacking Melton-Meaux. In recent months, she was out-raised by Melton-Meaux, whose average donation in June was over $600.

Votes are still being counted in Minnesota, but Omar is on track to join Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez with a large win.

Omar’s campaign had emphasized her progressive credentials in Congress — an important factor in her district in Minneapolis, one of the deepest blue areas in the country.

“No one has ever been in Congress who represents as many of the marginalized identities that I represent in one body, and who has been a first in the ways that I’ve been a first,” she told BuzzFeed News in a recent interview.

“To be the only member in Congress that comes from a country that is currently on the president’s Muslim ban — I did not expect there to be a red carpet welcome situation.”

Her reelection slogan, “Send Her Back — to Congress,” evoked the racist remarks by President Donald Trump, who said he believed she and other members of the Squad should “go back” to where they came from.

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