Demonized by Republicans and disliked by many Democratic elites, Ilhan Omar manages to defeat the well-funded campaign of Antone Melton-Meaux.
Rabat – Ilhan Omar managed to easily defeat challenger Antone Melton-Meaux in her Minnesota Democratic primary election on August 11. Seeking her second term in November, Omar is likely to win outright in her primarily Democratic-voting district. Melton-Meaux had raised millions to mount a strong challenge against her, making her national celebrity and exceptionally progressive platform the primary issues against her.
After a grueling campaign where her opponents painted her as “out of touch” with local voters, she announced her victory on Twitter. “Tonight, our movement didn’t just win,” she stated. “We earned a mandate for change. Despite outside efforts to defeat us, we once again broke turnout records. Despite the attacks, our support has only grown.”
Popular and controversial
Somali-born Ilhan Omar has been a controversial figure in US politics since her election to national Congress in 2018. Republican news outlets and politicians have demonized her for being critical of Israel and for fiercely defending progressive politics. She is one of the first two Muslim women to serve in the US congress, and the first to do so wearing the hijab.
Omar is part of “the squad,” which includes fellow Muslim Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who also won defeated her opponents in the 2020 primaries that select Democratic and Republican nominees. The group of outspoken female progressives, that also includes Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, has faced vilification by Republican operatives and by elites in their own Democratic party.
Ilhan Omar was a vocal supporter of the Bernie Sanders campaign that nearly won the Democratic nomination before unprecedented political maneuvering saw all other leading candidates drop out to coalesce around Joe Biden. The politics Omar and her allies profess is seen as a threat to American establishment politics and the wealth of billionaires and big business.
Right-wing voices have aimed to destroy Ilhan Omar’s political career since her emergence, but have found it difficult to square her support for LGBTI rights, religious freedom, and anti-establishment politics with the accusations of religious conservatism commonly used to smear American Muslims.
Her opponents have increasingly latched onto her criticism of Israel as a sign of antisemitism guided by her faith, but a growing number of Americans agree with Omar’s stance. With another term in Congress now very likely for Ilhan Omar, her opponents, entrenched in corporate-backed campaigning, are likely stunned by their inability to defeat her.