Far-left Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) will face a primary challenge from former Minneapolis City Councilmember Don Samuels — the same individual she narrowly defeated in the last election cycle.
Samuels made a name for himself in 2022 after coming within striking distance of unseating Omar as the party’s nominee. He lost by just over two percent of the vote, garnering 48.2 percent to Omar’s 50.3 percent — a difference of 2,466 votes.
Samuels believes the “trajectory” of his campaign is “still intact.”
“And then, of course, Ilhan has not helped herself. She’s dug a deeper hole, especially in this most recent [Israel-Hamas] crisis, and continues to demonstrate that there’s an urgent need for new leadership,” the 74-year-old challenger said, according to the Star Tribune.
Further, Samuels accused Omar of minimizing “the assault on Israel” and exacerbating “divisions in the way she frames the problem in Palestine.” Notably, Omar is among those who initially spread fake news, falsely blaming Israel for the missile explosion on a Gaza hospital.
However, she added tweets to the thread, asserting that her office simply cited an AP report and using it as a “reminder that information is often unreliable and disputed in the fog of war (especially on Twitter where misinformation is rampant).”
“We all have a responsibility to ensure information we are sharing is from credible sources and to acknowledge as new reports come in,” she said.
Nevertheless, she later suggested the report was inconclusive, asserting that it is “critical that we have a fully independent investigation to determine conclusively who is responsible for this war crime.”
It should be noted that her original tweet, blaming Israel, remains up, despite the fact that it has been debunked:
Bombing a hospital is among the gravest of war crimes. The IDF reportedly blowing up one of the few places the injured and wounded can seek medical treatment and shelter during a war is horrific.@POTUS needs to push for an immediate ceasefire to end this slaughter. https://t.co/dPJ48dyDe8
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 17, 2023
It is a reminder that information is often unreliable and disputed in the fog of war (especially on Twitter where misinformation is rampant). We all have a responsibility to ensure information we are sharing is from credible sources and to acknowledge as new reports come in.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 19, 2023
It is critical that we have a fully independent investigation to determine conclusively who is responsible for this war crime. https://t.co/8d7E3cLtk3
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) October 19, 2023
Samuels, her challenger, said he is also “outraged at the carnage of innocents,” adding, “I’d speak against it,” but he called for balance in the way it is spoken about.
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“We have to be balanced and we have to speak about things in such a way remembering that America is ultimately, at the end of the day, the broker of peace,” he added.
Omar has shown no such balance. Late October, the congresswoman voted “no” on HR 771, which essentially states that the U.S. stands with Israel “as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists.” In a statement explaining her decision, Omar said she could not support it because it “fails to acknowledge and mourn the lives of Palestinians taken by the Israeli military.”
Samuels joins the ranks of two others — Tim Peterson, an Air Force veteran, and Sarah Gad, an attorney, who are also lodging primary challenges against Omar in the upcoming election.
The Star Tribune notes that Samuels’ critiques of Omar’s desire to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a “public safety agency” hit home with voters last time, perhaps leading to his near success in that election cycle. However, this time, Samuels is reportedly seeking to “focus some of his criticism on what he feels are Omar’s inconsistent values.”
In a statement to the Star Tribune, Omar said she has continually fought for the progressive values of her constituents and criticized Samuels for receiving a contribution from billionaire Republican Harlan Crow.
“Right-wing donors have targeted me since I first entered public life, so I am not surprised that my challenger previously received contributions from Harlan Crow, the same far-right billionaire who bankrolled Clarence Thomas,” she said.