Wednesday November 4, 2020
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) is project to win reelection to her House seat in Minnesota, brushing aside a challenge from a Republican tech entrepreneur in securing a second term on Capitol Hill.
A member of "the Squad," four progressive women of color first elected in 2018, Omar was one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, and she's been a frequent target of President Trump, who has riled his base — and charges of xenophobia — by questioning her patriotism during swings through the North Star State.
The attacks likely helped Omar in Minnesota's 5th District, a deep blue district that she had carried with 78 percent of the vote two years ago. Trump won just 19 percent of the district in 2016. And Omar's Republican challenger, Lacy Johnson, a Black IT engineer endorsed by the president, failed to make inroads with his promise to fight poverty and crime through education reform and business savvy.
A central disagreement between the candidates centered on law enforcement, an issue thrust into the national spotlight following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May. Omar, in the aftermath, had led the liberal charge for dismantling the police department and shifting funds to community development — a proposal Johnson had rejected out of hand.
Omar, who fled violence in her native Somalia and spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp, has stirred plenty of controversy during her first two years in Washington. A frequent critic of U.S. foreign policy, she was forced to apologize last year for suggesting wealthy Jewish donors had bought lawmaker support for Israel. And subsequent remarks, suggesting a "dual loyalty" among Israel's staunchest backers, prompted the House to vote on a resolution condemning hate speech.
Through it all, Democratic leaders have maintained their support for the feisty Minnesotan. And Omar racked up a series of legislative victories along the way, championing progressive proposals addressing issues such as climate change, prison reform and human rights.