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Rep. Ilhan Omar Wins Congressional Primary

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., pictured in January, made history in 2018 as the first Somali American elected to Congress.
Marcio Jose Sanchez
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., pictured in January, made history in 2018 as the first Somali American elected to Congress.

Rep. Ilhan Omar has won her primary, informally securing a hold on Minnesota's historically Democratic-run 5th Congressional District, The Associated Press projects.

After a high-profile first term in Congress, the freshman representative faced several primary challengers, the most prominent being Antone Melton-Meaux, a first-time political candidate who runs a mediation company.

Melton-Meaux ran a campaign "focused on the fifth," telling Minnesota Public Radio's Mark Zdechlik that Omar is "out of touch with the district and has been focused on her own personal pursuits and celebrity to the detriment of the work that needs to be done."

Omar and Melton-Meaux were nearly tied in fundraising totals, both raising just over $4 million — with Omar holding a slight edge. Both candidates were also heavily funded by out of state donors (which made up 91% of Omar's funds and 85% of Melton-Meaux's.)


Omar's 2018 win marked several firsts for the U.S. Congress. She made history as the first Somali American elected and was the first of two Muslim women elected to Congress that same year.

Shortly after taking office, Omar came under fire and then apologized for making comments over Twitter that were interpreted as anti-Semitic. Her tweets sparked a backlash from Republican and Democratic leaders alike, prompting her to issue an apology.

Omar is part of the widely known "squad," a group of four progressive freshman congresswomen of color including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

President Trump has loudly voiced his opposition to the "squad" as a whole. He has also aimed his criticism specifically at Omar, referring to her as "an America-hating socialist" at a fall rally last year in Minneapolis.

Omar received endorsements from progressive allies including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Notably, despite policy disagreements within the party, Omar also secured the support of key establishment Democratic leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elena Moore is a production assistant for the NPR Politics Podcast. She also fills in as a reporter for the NewsDesk. Moore previously worked as a production assistant for Morning Edition. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she worked for the Washington Desk as an editorial assistant, doing both research and reporting. Before coming to NPR, Moore worked at NBC News. She is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and is originally and proudly from Brooklyn, N.Y.