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Ilhan Omar Wins Minnesota Congressional Primary

Omar, a progressive from Minnesota, made history in 2018 as the first Somali-American elected to Congress and is projected to win her Democratic primary.
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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., participates in a panel during a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders in Clive, Iowa. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP hide caption

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Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Ilhan Omar has won her primary, informally securing a hold on Minnesota's historically Democratic-run 5th district, the Associated Press projects.

After a high-profile first term in Congress, the freshman representative faced several primary challengers, the most prominent being Antone Melton-Meaux, a first-time political candidate who runs a mediation company.

Melton-Meaux ran a campaign "focused on the fifth," telling Minnesota Public Radio's Mark Zdechlik that Omar is, "out of touch with the district and has been focused on her own personal pursuits and celebrity to the detriment of the work that needs to be done."

Omar and Melton-Meaux were nearly tied in fundraising totals, both raising just over $4 million — with Omar holding a slight edge. Both candidates were also heavily funded by out of state donors (which made up 91% of Omar's funds and 85% of Melton-Meaux's.)

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Omar's 2018 win marked several firsts for the United States Congress. She made history as the first Somali-American elected and was the first of two Muslim women elected to Congress that same year.

Shortly after taking office, Omar came under fire and then apologized for making comments over Twitter that were interpreted as anti-Semitic. Her tweets sparked a backlash from Republicans and Democrats leaders alike prompting her to issue a statement.

Omar is part of the widely known "squad," a group of four progressive freshman congresswomen of color including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

.@IlhanMN get it done sis!

We got you. #OurSquadisBig

— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) August 11, 2020

President Trump has loudly voiced his opposition to the "squad" as a whole. He has also aimed his criticism specifically at Omar, referring to her as an "an America-hating socialist" at a fall rally last year in Minneapolis.

Omar received endorsements from progressive allies including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Notably, despite policy disagreements within the party, Omar also secured the support of key establishment Democratic leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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