May 13, 2024 - Politics

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar wins Democratic endorsement over primary challenger

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and Don Samuels. Photos courtesy of the Don Samuels campaign and the U.S. House of Representatives

Don Samuels and Rep. Ilhan Omar. Photos courtesy of the Don Samuels campaign and the U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar secured the Minnesota DFL Party endorsement over repeat primary challenger Don Samuels over the weekend.

State of play: Samuels, a 75-year-old former Minneapolis city council member, came within two percentage points of ousting Omar in the 2022 primary.

  • He's argued that Omar, a leading member of the progressive "Squad," focuses too much on international issues and her own political brand and not enough on constituent services and crime.
  • Omar and her supporters say she gets results and advocates on issues that matter to residents of the ethnically diverse 5th Congressional District.

What they're saying: Omar, who crossed the 60% threshold needed to win the endorsement on the first ballot at Saturday's convention, said the move demonstrates that Democrats in the Fifth Congressional District are "committed to progress across our state and country."

What we're watching: Whether — and when — outside groups start spending in the race ahead of the August primary.

In other political news:

🗳️The Minnesota state House will vote Monday on a measure to put a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights on the 2026 ballot.

  • The language is folded into an Equal Rights Amendment that would also cover gender, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Yes, but: As we've reported, majority Democrats are divided on what the amendment should say and when it should go before the voters.

  • A version passed by the Senate last year would put the question to voters in 2024 without explicit language protecting abortion and other forms of reproductive health care.

What we're hearing: House DFL leaders told reporters last week that they feel good about the bill's chances in the Senate. But the bill's chief Senate author told Axios that it didn't yet have the votes to clear that chamber.

  • "We're hopeful, but we're just not there yet, Sen. Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton) said on Thursday.

The bottom line: With a May 20 adjournment deadline, less than a week remains for legislators to figure it out.

🌿 The Minnesota Supreme Court delivered a buzzkill to the Legal Marijuana Now Party on Friday, ruling that it has failed to meet the requirements to keep its major party status.

Why it matters: Candidates running under the party's banner will no longer get a guaranteed spot on the ballot.

Between the lines: Democrats have been concerned about "pot party" candidates being a spoiler in close state and federal races.

  • The DFL Party petitioned the court to demote the Legal Marijuana Now Party after the Legislature enacted new major party eligibility requirements.

What's next: Legal Marijuana Now Party officials say they'll appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, per MPR News.

Trail Mix is Axios Twin Cities reporter Torey Van Oot's occasional column on all things Minnesota politics. Send her your tips and political takes: [email protected]

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