As the November elections draw ever closer, state after state prepares for their primaries. One of the most recent to do so was Minnesota. Now, as the state is known to be somewhat of a Democratic stronghold, the battle here was not between party so much as over particular policy and, therefore, candidates.
And because of this, House Representative Ilhan Omar was thought by many to be found in a bit of hot water.
Her most successful challenger, Antone Melton-Meaux, who is a black lawyer and mediator in Omar’s hometown of Minneapolis, posed quite a threat to Somali-born congresswoman. As is typical, the fact that he challenged the incumbent is not a rarity so much as that he seemed to have quite a bit of success doing it. And according to him, as well as several prominent news outlets, it’s because of Omar’s near-celebrity status.
Incumbents in some districts can be nearly impossible to beat, particularly in areas like Minnesota’s 5th District, where Republican challengers are near non-existent. While the seat may have several contenders, typically, as long as they are all of one party, and the incumbent hasn’t made themselves into an embarrassment to that party, it’s a safe bet that the seat will not change hands.
One of Melton-Meaux’s main arguments against Omar, however, is that she had done precisely that. With all her dashing around in the spotlight, whether because of her constant stream of anti-Semitism or her confusing and ever-changing love triangles, he argued that she was no longer fit to represent the citizens of Minnesota’s Fifth, having become estranged with those who actually lived there.
As he told the Associated Press, “She has been ineffective in Washington because she is divisive, and she’s focused on her celebrity.”
ABC News took that so far as to say that Melton-Meaux was “weaponizing her celebrity status.” They wrote, “Melton-Meaux has repeatedly critiqued Omar as disengaged from her constituents, more focused on achieving personal fame and national celebrity that on resolving the district’s problems.”
And NBC News made a similar note.
The outlet reported, “Rep. Ilhan Omar is about to learn whether voters in her Minneapolis-are congressional district support the mix of confrontational, anti-Trump progressivism and celebrity that she brings to the job.” They continue, speaking of Melton-Meaux as a “surprisingly well-funded challenger” who’s message “has portrayed Omar, a member of “The Squad” of four progressive female lawmakers, as out of touch with the 5th District.”
And as NBC noted, his message wasn’t exactly falling on deaf ears. Melton-Meaux was “well-funded” indeed. In fact, during his congressional campaign, he raised and spent more money than Omar and not just be a little.
According to an article from Politico, Melton-Meaux “has spent nearly $2.1 million on TV ads, compared to Omar’s $875,000.” Additionally, while Omar spent about $400,000 on digital ads, Melton-Meaux used about $1.5 million for the same purpose.
But he also had outside help.
“A high-spending super PAC, Americans for Tomorrow’s Future, has also waded into the race, spending close to $2.5 million on mailers and TV ads criticizing Omar and boosting Melton-Meaux.” Politico also noted that the same progressive groups who “spent big to help Tlaib in her primary last week, have not done much to back up Omar.”
However, as Omar recently noted, “Organized people will always beat organized money.”
And while the jury is still out on just how “organized” Omar is, she did manage to pull off a win against her big-spending opponent on Tuesday.
According to recent tallies provided by the New York Times, Omar leads Melton-Meaux with a 57-39 margin. It was noted that Omar was supported by nearly all of the major Democratic political players in her region, minus, of course, the largest newspaper in Minneapolis.
Accompanying her win is another 50-month extension for her husband’s political consulting firm, E Street Group. You might remember that this is the same firm that has received over $600,000 from his wife’s campaign during the last quarter alone. As of right now, it appears everything is legit about this money trail.
However, it hardly seems legal. But time, as well as her third husband’s tax returns, will tell if it is or not. We may just find that Omar’s new term ends before it can begin if she is found to be suspected of yet another case of fraud.