Ilhan Omar gets 2024 Democratic primary challenger with big-money backing

Minneapolis, Minnesota - Former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels has announced he is once again launching a primary challenge to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels has announced his bid for Congress in a rematch against incumbent Ilhan Omar.
Former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels has announced his bid for Congress in a rematch against incumbent Ilhan Omar.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Omar (41) is known as one of the most progressive members of the US House. In 2022, she secured a third term in office after defeating Samuels (74) by just two percentage points.

The result of the race was closer than many expected, and has encouraged Samuels to give the campaign trail another go in the 2024 election year.

"Ilhan hasn't helped herself," the Jamaica-born Democrat told host Blois Olson on WCCO's Sunday Take. "She has made missteps, even after the last race."

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"And so there’s some folks who are coming because of what I am, who I am and what I will do, and some are coming because of what she does and will do."

In the past, Samuels criticized Omar for backing efforts to defund the police and reinvest in social services and for taking a trip to the World Cup in November 2022 funded by the Qatari government.

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Congresswoman Ilhan Omar supports a ceasefire amid Israel's continued siege of Gaza.
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar supports a ceasefire amid Israel's continued siege of Gaza.  © Jemal Countess / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Samuels himself is no stranger to wealthy backers. Last year, his campaign received contributions from Republican billionaire mega-donor Harlan Crow, who has also financed luxury trips for conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

On top of that, Samuels' 2022 campaign attracted around $350,000 in spending by a super-PAC affiliated with AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying group that has poured millions into stymying Black progressive candidates.

The ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza is sure to play a big role as the 2024 race heats up. Omar is one of a handful of lawmakers in Washington DC who have openly called for a ceasefire in the Middle East.

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When asked whether he would support a ceasefire, Samuels failed to provide a concrete answer to WCCO while reiterating his support for the Israeli government.

"So we have to remember that Israel is our ally, that Hamas is, in fact, a terrorist organization. But our number one allies are justice and peace," he said.

Cover photo: Collage: Jemal Countess / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP & IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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