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U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s primary challenger in Minnesota claims her campaign is “falling apart” just days before the Democratic primary is set to take place.
Attorney Antone Melton-Meaux, who has managed to outraise the progressive member of “the Squad,” has accused her of ignoring her constituents, a view shared by the Minneapolis Star Tribune which has endorsed him.
Facing her well-funded opponent and three other Democratic challengers in the expensive primary bid, Omar was apparently bailed out by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who funneled $14,000 into the freshman Democrat’s campaign in July, according to records released last month by the Federal Election Commission.
But between April and June, Melton-Meaux reportedly raised $3.2 million compared to Omar’s $471,624 during the same time period.
“She has been ineffective in Washington because she is divisive, and she’s focused on her celebrity,” he told The Associated Press.
He also told WCCO that, although he voted for Omar in 2018 as a constituent, he was “disappointed, time and time again” as she missed dozens of votes on the House floor and failed to represent the people in her district.
Omar’s vocal opposition and criticism of President Donald Trump have made her popular among more liberal Democrats, but her controversial remarks and tweets have often raised the ire of Jewish leaders and some of her fellow Democrat colleagues. Omar, one of the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress, was named anti-Semite of the year by StopAntiSemitism.org last year.
She has also come under scrutiny about the more than one million dollars reportedly paid from her campaign during the 2020 cycle to her husband’s firm, and was asked during a recent debate about $600,000 that his company received in July.
“I don’t pay my husband. I pay the firm to do work and that [$600,000] really is an example of that work,” she responded. “It was the first time we placed a TV ad, which is surprising to me because that’s not something we’re used to in the 5th, and that money went to place that ad and to make sure we have digital ads, to make sure we have literature that’s being sent to our constituents, because it is get-out-the-vote efforts for us.”
Melton-Meaux has fired back at the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party which filed a complaint accusing him of illegally concealing some of his contributions as well as the identities of his campaign consultants, according to WCCO.
The mediation lawyer and political newcomer slammed the move as “a desperate attempt by the DFL to resurrect Congresswoman Omar’s campaign that is falling apart.”
Some conservative donors and pro-Israel groups backed Omar’s opponent in the primary race for Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District, reportedly holding a virtual fundraiser for Melton-Meaux back in May, according to the Star Tribune. Democratic Colorado governor Jared Polis, who is Jewish, gave Melton-Meaux’s campaign $1,000 as well.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune has praised Melton-Meaux for working at “building common ground.”
The Star Tribune Editorial Board Is endorsing Antone Melton-Meaux for the Fifth District. https://t.co/BjOELnITtL
— Star Tribune Opinion (@StribOpinion) August 6, 2020
“Whether it’s health care, criminal justice or affordable housing, Melton-Meaux appears progressive, but pragmatic,” the editorial board said. “While Omar wants to lead a movement, Melton-Meaux seeks to serve the Fifth District.”
Criticizing Omar’s “missteps,” the paper declared that it’s “these kinds of ethical distractions that the Fifth District could do without.”
“In the Editorial Board interview, Omar took little responsibility for her rocky start, instead largely blaming her critics and saying her failing was perhaps in not realizing what a ‘special unicorn’ she would be in Congress,” the Star Tribune added.
Omar’s fellow-Squad member, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, remarked about the unusual circumstance of having such a well-funded primary in the heavily-Democratic district.
“So when we’re the ones that are attracting multimillion-dollar primary challengers in an unprecedented way, that just tells you how effective Ilhan is,” she said in a live-stream event Sunday, according to Fox News.
“That tells you how damn effective she is against big real estate, against our military-industrial complex, against our Wall Street complex, against basically every corrupt institution that we have right now in this country,” she added. “And they’re coming for each and every one of us.”
“Ilhan is a valued and important Member of our Caucus,” Pelosi said in a statement after endorsing Omar. “In her first term, Ilhan has already established herself as a leader on a host of issues — from child nutrition to housing to US-Africa relations.”
Touting Pelosi’s endorsement, Omar’s campaign said the congresswoman “now has the support of the Democratic leaders of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Minnesota legislature, representing the support of the state and national Democratic party at the highest levels.”
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