U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar faces primary challenge on Tuesday
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress and no stranger to criticism from across the aisle, faces a challenge from fellow Democrats hoping to unseat her in a primary election on Tuesday.
“Her progressive politics is a platform of platitudes,” said Antone Melton-Meaux, a Black lawyer who is one of four candidates challenging Omar in her Minneapolis-based district.
A refugee from Somalia, Omar, 37, quickly became a national figure when she was elected in 2018. Republicans rebuked her left-wing politics, and President Donald Trump has falsely accused her of supporting al Qaeda. Republicans and Democrats alike have chided her criticisms of Israel, and she increased her security after death threats.
Melton-Meaux, 47, said Omar is more focused on celebrity than serving her constituents. If elected, he said, “I will do the work.”
Omar’s campaign has said it is not worried about the election outcome. “We’re confident,” spokesman Jeremy Slevin said.
Both Melton-Meaux and Omar have raised over $4 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Police reforms are a top issue in Omar’s district, where George Floyd, a Black man, was killed in police custody in May, touching off nationwide protests.
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Vermont all hold primary elections for Congress on Tuesday. The outcome will help set the stage for Nov. 3 elections to the House of Representatives and Senate that will determine the balance of power in Washington.
In Georgia, meanwhile, a Republican who has made inflammatory comments about Muslims like Omar, Marjorie Taylor Greene, is running for an open House seat.
She faces John Cowan, a neurosurgeon, in a primary runoff. The winner will likely be elected in November in the conservative district.
In videos released in June by Politico, Greene suggested that Omar’s election in 2018 was part of “an Islamic invasion of our government.”
The videos included derogatory comments about Blacks and Jews, and Republican leaders denounced Greene after they surfaced.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Tom Brown)