WASHINGTON – Several primary elections happened around the country Tuesday, but perhaps none gathered the attention as much as Rep. Ilhan Omar's competitive Democratic primary in her bid for reelection in Minnesota, where she emerged victorious.
Omar, a former state representative, was elected during the 2018 midterms as part of the "Blue Wave" that hit the U.S. Capitol, and she gained a national profile as a leading progressive voice in the House of Representatives.
She was challenged by Antone Melton-Meaux, a Black lawyer and mediator, who raised millions of dollars, nearly matching Omar overall and outraising her in the most recent cycle.
Melton-Meaux trailed significantly with more than 90% of the vote counted, leading him to concede.
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Omar tweeted Tuesday night: "In Minnesota, we know that organized people will always beat organized money. Tonight, our movement didn’t just win. We earned a mandate for change. Despite outside efforts to defeat us, we once again broke turnout records.
"It has been the honor of my life to represent you in Congress and I look forward to continuing to serve the people of the 5th District in the years to come," she continued.
Minnesota's 5th Congressional District is strongly Democratic, and Omar will likely go on to victory in November.
Omar was born in Somalia and came with her family to America as a refugee in the early 1990s. She and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., were the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress.
Omar and Tlaib, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., came to be known collectively as "the Squad" – first-term congresswomen, all women of color, who established themselves as perhaps the four most progressive members in the House.
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Her remarks criticizing Israel were denounced as anti-Semitic.
Omar has also been a top target of conservatives and President Donald Trump, including when he drew bipartisan rebukes after suggesting "the Squad" should "go back" to where they came from, though only Omar was not born in the U.S.
The election was "about standing up to a President who promised to ban an entire group of people from this country based solely on their Muslim identity," Omar said Tuesday night.
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The freshman congresswoman's personal life has also come under scrutiny.
She recently married her Washington political consultant, Tim Mynett, months after denying that they were having an affair and divorcing her first husband. Conservatives raised ethical questions and filed a federal complaint over Omar’s campaign paying Mynett’s firm more than $1 million for advertising, fundraising and other services. The law doesn’t prohibit such an arrangement.
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Omar's victory Tuesday night means that "the Squad" have had a clean sweep in their primaries so far, and progressive candidates, both incumbents and challengers, have continued to emerge successful against more mainstream Democrats.
Like Omar, Melton-Meaux identifies himself as a progressive, but he argued that Omar's national profile has distracted her from delivering for the Minneapolis-area voters she represents.