Congressman Ilhan Omar has become a heroine of the anti-Trump resistance but she is facing a tough battle in her quest to win a second term.
The Somali-born Democrat has been dogged by controversy over her anti-Semitic rhetoric, a campaign finance scandal, ethics and corruption issues and allegations that she may have married her own brother.
Then there is the problem that her House seat is in Minneapolis, a city that was the epicenter of the wave of riots that have spread across America after the unarmed black man George Floyd was killed by a rogue cop.
With her district in ruins, the radicals on the city council in the process of eliminating the police and an atmosphere of fear and desperation present in the still-smoldering area, there is a growing idea that Omar is more concerned with Twitter fights than doing her job.
And that inattention to detail and addiction to divisiveness may do her in.
Rep. Ilhan Omar is one of the best-known Democrats from the class of 2018, a lightning-rod member of the Squad whose outspoken liberal politics have made her an enemy of Donald Trump.
Back home in Minneapolis, however, her polarizing national profile is complicating her bid to win a second term.
Facing a political newcomer who raised a jaw-dropping $3.2 million last quarter — much of it from pro-Israel donors who oppose Omar’s foreign policy stances — Omar suddenly finds herself on the defensive against claims that she’s too divisive to effectively represent the solidly Democratic district.
“We don’t need someone distracted with Twitter fights,” said primary challenger Antone Melton-Meaux, who pledges to focus on local issues and avoid the spotlight. “I don’t want to be a celebrity. I want to serve the people, and people are tired of the politics of division and distraction.”
The first Black Muslim woman to serve in Congress, Omar has built an image as a progressive champion who isn’t afraid to stand up to Trump. The president, in turn, has frequently singled out the freshman lawmaker, disparaging her as an anti-Semite, an “America-hating socialist” and falsely claiming that she publicly supports al Qaeda.
A Somali refugee who is the first member of Congress to wear a hijab, Omar was attacked in xenophobic terms by Trump in 2019 when he encouraged her and other members of the Squad to “go back” to where they came from. As a result, supporters rallied around Omar in the district, which is the most strongly Democratic in the state.
Yet many constituents have been alienated by her comments about Israel. Omar has been accused of anti-Semitism after suggesting support for Israel was popular due to campaign donations, that pro-Israel lawmakers had dual allegiance to both the U.S. and Israel and Israel had “hypnotized the world.”
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