Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Defeats Challenger to Win Primary

New York Times calls Minnesota race for incumbent Omar, who has drawn controversy for comments about Israel

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Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks with media on August 11, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks with media on August 11, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.Credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images/AFP

U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar held off a well-funded challenger Tuesday and won the Democratic primary in her congressional district, putting her on track for re-election in November along with other members of the "Squad" of four liberal freshmen.

Omar defeated attorney Antone Melton-Meaux, who had accused her of prioritizing her celebrity over her constituents, and several other challengers, the New York Times said.

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Omar had 57.2% of the vote compared with 39.4% for Melton-Meaux, the New York Times said. This included only in-person voting, and officials warned ahead of the election that a large volume of mailed-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic could delay official final results.

"In Minnesota, we know that organized people will always beat organized money," Omar, 37, said in a statement. "Despite outside efforts to defeat us, we once again broke turnout records."

Progressive Democrats have generally done well this primary cycle. Representative Rashida Tlaib, along with Omar a member of the "Squad" of four liberal freshman congresswomen, last week held off a challenge.

Omar's win in a Democratic stronghold means all four Squad members are likely to win re-election in November. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York dispatched a primary challenger in June, and the fourth Squad member, Representative Ayanna Pressley, is running unopposed in her primary in Massachusetts next month.

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Vermont and Georgia all held primary elections for Congress on Tuesday. The outcome will help set the stage for November elections to the House of Representatives and Senate that will determine the balance of power in Washington.

Melton-Meaux, an attorney, criticized Omar for her comments on Israel, some of which have been seen as antisemitic, as well as her failure to show up for some House votes. His campaign received support from pro-Israel groups.

Omar has apologized for some of her statements about Israeli lobbying power, and her campaign said she had good reasons for missing some votes.

Police reforms were a top campaign issue in Omar's district, where George Floyd, a Black man, was killed in police custody in May, touching off nationwide protests. Omar called for restructuring the police department, while Melton-Meaux said the police function should be "more narrowly focused."

A refugee from Somalia, Omar quickly became a target of conservative critics after she was elected in 2018. Republicans rebuked her left-wing politics, and President Donald Trump has falsely accused her of supporting Al-Qaida. Members of both parties chided her for her comments on Israel.

In Georgia, a Republican businesswoman who has made inflammatory comments about Muslims like Omar and expressed support for QAnon, Marjorie Taylor Greene, defeated neurosurgeon John Cowan in a primary runoff for an open House seat. Results from Georgia's secretary of state showed she was ahead by 60 percent to 40 percent when Cowan conceded.

QAnon is a fringe belief propagated online that claims "deep-state" traitors are plotting against Trump.

The Republican in the conservative district will likely be elected in November.