'Squad' Member Ekes Out Primary Win

Ilhan Omar's race was closer than expected
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 10, 2022 12:15 AM CDT
Ilhan Omar Ekes Out Primary Win
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 30, 2021.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Newser) – Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, a member of the progressive Squad, eked out a closer-than-expected Democratic primary victory Tuesday against a centrist challenger who questioned the incumbent's support for the “defund the police" movement, the AP reports. The evening went far smoother for another progressive, Becca Balint, who won the Democratic House primary in Vermont—positioning her to become the first woman representing the state in Congress.

Omar, who represents Minneapolis and is one of the left's leading voices in Congress, has defended calls to redirect public safety funding more into community-based programs. She squared off with former City Councilmember Don Samuels, whose north Minneapolis base suffers from more violent crime than other parts of the city. Samuels argued that Omar is divisive and helped defeat a ballot question last year that sought to replace the city police department with a new public safety unit. He and others also successfully sued the city to force it to meet minimum police staffing levels called for in Minneapolis' charter.

Samuels said his narrow loss shows that Omar is beatable: “If this was the general election, no doubt that we would have won this race." Omar countered, “Tonight’s victory is a testament to how much our district believes in the collective values we are fighting for.” Omar, who is seeking her third term in the House, had crushed a similar primary challenge two years ago from a well-funded but lesser-known opponent. Two other members of the Squad—Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri—won their Democratic primaries last week. (See more Tuesday primary results from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Vermont.)

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