Don Samuels, the Minneapolis community activist who attempted to unseat congresswoman and "Squad" member Representative Ilhan Omar in the Democratic primary, conceded the race late Tuesday, setting up Omar as the heavy favorite to win a third term in Congress.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting by 10:30 p.m. CST, Omar had received 56,392 votes, or 50.39 percent, compared with Samuels's 53,890 votes, or 48.15 percent. None of the other three candidates in the Democratic primary cracked 1 percent of the vote.
Samuels had been making up ground all night as more votes were counted, but he eventually conceded, telling his supporters that "the people have spoken." The Associated Press called the race for Omar just before 11 p.m. in Minnesota.
"To come this close means that we have our finger on the pulse of the exhausted majority," Samuels told his supporters. If the playing field were even - if Omar didn't have the benefits of being an incumbent, and the high-profile endorsements that come with it - he said he likely would have won. "We know that America wants change."
Samuels said he would support Omar in the fall, but he added, "We're not going away."
"My only hope is that my opponent will have learned a lesson from this," Samuels said of Tuesday's close race. "You cannot give poor constituent service, put your own dreams above the dreams and visions and desires of your community, hold scant and scarce town-hall meetings, not be available to the press that serves your community, and get reelected easily."
Omar, 39, received a spirited fight from Samuels, a 73-year-old Jamaican immigrant and former city councilman, who has spent 25 years working as a community activist for some of most challenged neighborhoods in Minneapolis.
Samuels told National Review that he initially supported Omar in 2018 when the Somali immigrant first ran to represent Minnesota's fifth congressional district, the most Democratic-leaning district in the state. But in the years since, Omar has become a lightning rod for controversy, including for regularly making what many view as antisemitic and anti-American comments, as well as for her far-left politics, her misuse of campaign funds, and her headline-making antics and scandals.
Samuels said Omar "has proven to be a divisive force in Congress," and her support for failed efforts to defund and dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department clearly showed that "she's been out of touch with voters." Omar has called the police department "rotten to the root."
Samuels pitched himself as a uniter, a collaborator, and a compromiser who would work with members across the political spectrum to get things done. He was a leader in the effort to fully fund and rebuild the depleted police department. He raised more money than Omar. He was endorsed by the Star Tribune, the largest newspaper in the state. And he had the support of Minneapolis's popular former police chief, Medaria Arradondo, the city's Democratic mayor, Jacob Frey, as well as several former chairs of the state's Democratic-Farmer-Labor party.
But Omar was officially endorsed by the DFL. Her campaign pegged Samuels as a corporate-backed conservative. And she has shown a remarkable ability to turn out her voters on Election Day. In 2020, Omar defeated her more moderate opponent, local attorney Antone Melton-Meaux, by close to 20 points, even though he had a massive fundraising advantage in the race.
The conservative Center of the American Experiment think tank noted that in 2020 - in the wake of the George Floyd riots in Minneapolis - turnout surged in Omar's district more than in any other congressional district in the state. And Omar's increased vote totals were spread "almost perfectly evenly" across the city, not just in neighborhoods where she is most popular.
In 2020, Omar's supporters faced accusations of illegal ballot harvesting after Project Veritas released a report that accused some of her supporters of illegally collecting blank ballots and posting boastful videos of their collections to social media.
Omar will face Republican Cicely Davis in the November general election. Davis won her three-candidate primary Tuesday with 4,691 votes, or 48.08 percent.
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