Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar is supposed to be in a fairly safe district having secured around 75% of the vote in her last go-round, but if some Minnesota Democrats have their way, she may be facing a significant primary challenge.
The Hill reports that Minnesota Dems are so frustrated with what they see as Omar’s blatant anti-Semitism and refusal to learn from her mistakes that they’re already talking about holding recruitment for a primary challenger, even though Omar has been in office less than three months.
“There’s definitely some buzz going around about it, but it’s more a buzz of is anyone talking about finding someone to run against her than it is anyone saying they’re going to run against her or contemplate it. There’s definitely talk about people wanting someone to run against her,” one Minnesota state senator, who represents part of Omar’s district, told the Washington, D.C. outlet.
That’s a fairly sharp critique, particularly from someone who represents the same district as Omar, but the evidence that her Minnesota constituents might be better off cutting her tenure in Congress short is mounting. In the first several weeks of her term, she was censured (sort of) twice for repeating the same or similar comments, all anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish legislators being subject to “dual loyalties” to both the United States and Israel.
Despite repeated attempts to “help” Omar understand the problems with her comments, she continues to make allusions to “dual loyalty” in different forms, showing she’s either incapable or uninterested in marked change.
In particular, Jewish lawmakers want Omar to face consequences for her anti-Semitic language.
“Our community is exasperated by Rep. Omar’s unfulfilled promises to listen and learn from Jewish constituents while seemingly simultaneously finding another opportunity to make an anti-Semitic remark and insult our community,” the head of a major Jewish group in Minnesota — who was among the Jewish leaders who met with Omar to help her understand why her “dual loyalty” comments were hurtful, inappropriate, and downright scandalous — told The Hill.
Omar, like her fellow freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is in a good place to handle a challenger, though. She faced a six-way primary in the last election cycle (though she was the endorsed candidate), and prevailed. She’s also in a district that heavily matches her demographic. Even if outside groups won’t tolerate Omar’s anti-Semitism, her direct constituents have shown they have no problem “questioning” Jewish leadership; they tolerated Rep. Keith Ellison for several terms, and he had direct ties to anti-Semitic hate preacher Louis Farrakhan.
Other problematic Democrats might be easier targets. Ocasio-Cortez had only a narrow victory over her Democratic opponent in her New York district’s primary, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who has faced many of her own accusations of anti-Semitism, and also deployed the “dual loyalty” smear against some of her Congressional colleagues, got into office on a fluke when the heir apparent for the seat in Congress was forced to drop out of the race. A similar scenario may not happen twice in a row.