Minnesota Democrats, aghast at controversial comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D), are taking initial steps to recruit a candidate to run against her in next year’s primary election, seeking to buck history in one of the nation’s most progressive legislative districts. Several party leaders said they have had discussions about finding a candidate to take on Omar, just over four months into her first term in Congress.
yet found anyone to challenge her. “There’s definitely some buzz going around about it, but it’s more a buzz of is anyone talking about finding someone to run against her than it is anyone saying they’re going to run against her or contemplate it. There’s definitely talk about people wanting someone to run against her,” said state Sen. Ron Latz (D), who represents a portion of Omar’s district.
In her first weeks on the job, Omar sparked outrage for comments that critics said relied on anti-Semitic tropes – first for suggesting that politicians who support Israel do so for financial reasons and then for suggesting that lobbyist are pushing for “allegiance to a foreign country.”
Those comments prompted two votes in the House condemning anti-Semitism, as well as other forms of hate speech. In Minnesota, Omar’s constituents took note. “Our community is exasperated by Rep. Omar’s unfulfilled promises to listen and learn from Jewish constituents while seemingly simultaneously finding another opportunity to make an anti-Semitic remark and insult our community,” Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said in a statement. Omar met with Hunegs last month, after her initial remarks received widespread condemnation. She has continued to meet with Jewish leaders both in Minneapolis and Washington, a spokesman said.
“I’d be pretty uncomfortable supporting Rep. Omar right now, given what I’ve learned about her since the election and given her apparent inability to stop insulting Jews,” said Latz, who represents the city of St. Louis Park, home to a large Jewish population, and who supported Omar’s chief rival in the 2018 Democratic primary
“Unfortunately, having the opportunity to speak with her about that point didn’t dissuade her making that statement,” Hunegs told The Hill in an interview Wednesday. “We were appalled.” But there has been a breakthrough as most Democrats have earmarked Bobby Joe Champion, a state senator who has served in the legislature for a decade, or look to entice Minneapolis City Councilwoman Andrea Jenkins, the first openly transgender African-American woman elected to public office in the United States.