WASHINGTON – Rep. Ilhan Omar defeated Don Samuels in the Democratic Primary in the 5th Congressional District. However, the race was closer than any of the previous challenges.
Omar won the primary by 50.53 percent to 48.2%, far less than the 20-point win she achieved over a Democratic opponent two years ago. In the deep Democratic district, she is expected to defeat Republican Cicely Davy, who won her party’s primary.
Samuels stated that while he thought he knew the people in the district, he believed the district was more centrist-oriented. Samuels spoke to MinnPost. “And it’s very difficult to beat an incumbent.”
Samuels conceded that the fact that Samuels could be 2.5 points behind an incumbent US Congress member means that, if the playing field was even, if there were no incumbent challengers, this would make it clear that Samuels believes that we would win the race.
He also stated to his supporters that he hoped that Omar would have learned a lesson and that he would continue to support him.
He said, “We are not going to sabotage.”
Samuels was a skilled fundraiser and received last-minute assistance from Make a Difference Minnesota05, a political action group that spent over $430,000 on advertising time during the race to promote Samuels as the best candidate for Democratic voters within the Minneapolis and north metropolitan areas.
Vance Opperman is the CEO and President of a private investment firm and was also one of the founders and leaders of Make a Difference MN05 PAC. He said that the last-minute effort by Samuels to boost Samuels was a reaction to Omar’s positions on various issues.
Opperman stated that Omar had not supported the infrastructure bill. This was a reference to the massive road construction and broadband expansion bills that were at the top of President Biden’s legislative agenda.
Opperman stated that those who attempted to give Samuels an edge before the election were also dissatisfied with Omar’s rejection of Russia-oil sanctions bills and her support for a charter amend that would have replaced Minneapolis’ Police Department with a Department of Public Safety. The amendment, called Question 2, was defeated last year by 56 to 44 percent.
Samuels was the leader of Question 2 opposition, presenting himself as a moderate and providing a sharp contrast Omar’s progressiveness.
Omar also defeated Albert Ross and AJ Kern in the primary race.
Meanwhile, Republican Brad Finstad easily beat Jeremy Munson, to face off with Democrat Jeff Ettinger. He defeated his Democratic rivals to face off during November’s general elections to fill the 1 st District congressional spot in the next Congress.
However, another race to decide whether Finstad is or Ettinger will be on the ballot has yet not been called.
On Monday, the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office stated that the special election results would be delayed due to “alternate results reporting processes being used” for each race.
This is because the primary was held within the newly created 1 St District, whose boundaries were altered by redistricting. The special election was held in precincts which belonged to the 1 ST District prior to redistricting. Finstad led the race in early returns.
Ettinger is a former Hormel executive and has been diagnosed as COVID-19. He has canceled his Austin election watch party. Finstad, a former state legislator who was also a farmer and served in the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Trump administration.
Finstad thanked his supporters at a Watch Party in Sleepy Eye Tuesday night and acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the special election race. Results were still slowing in coming in.
Finstad stated, “We’ll watch how the rest of that night goes but I guess tomorrow we wake up and we’re continuing on to November.”
The incumbent will be victorious in the special election.
On Tuesday, voters also gave victory to Rep. Betty McCollum (D-4 the), over Amane Badhasso. Amane is an Ethiopian refugee who arrived in Minnesota as a child from Kenya. McCollum won with more than 83%.
McCollum stated, “We worked hard to the end and it paid off,”
McCollum was first elected in 2000 to represent the 4 th District. He is an ally of Nancy Pelosi, and has benefited from the seniority system, which rewards legislators with staying power. This system was instrumental in McCollum’s election to the House Appropriations Committee, where he oversees the massive defense budget.
McCollum will be facing Republican May Lor Xiong in November. May Lor Xiong won Tuesday’s primary for her party.
Rep. Pete Stauber (R-8th), easily defeated Harry Robb Welty in the primary. Jen Schultz won in the Democratic primary and will challenge Stauber in fall.