Ilhan Omar faces primary challenger again after close 2022 race

Samuels lost by less than 2,500 votes to Omar in the 2022 primary with about 48% of the vote while she received 50%.

Published: November 13, 2023 9:46am

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar is facing a primary challenge again from former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels, who narrowly lost to her in 2022. 

"Ilhan has not helped herself. She's dug a deeper hole, especially in this most recent [Israel-Hamas] crisis, and continues to demonstrate that there's an urgent need for new leadership," Samuels, a 74-year-old Jamaican immigrant, church leader and radio host, told the Minnesota Star Tribune on Sunday.

Samuels lost by less than 2,500 votes to Omar in the 2022 primary with about 48% of the vote while she received 50%. Omar went on to beat her Republican opponent in the general election with more than 74% of the vote.

Samuels hopes to close the narrow gap against Omar in Minnesota's 5th District as she faces backlash for her stance on Israel. 

"We have to remember that Israel is our ally. Hamas is, in fact, a terrorist organization. But our No. 1 allies are justice and peace," he told WCCO, a local talk radio station, on Sunday.

Other Democrats, including Air Force veteran Tim Peterson and attorney Sarah Gad, are also trying to unseat Omar. 

Samuels may receive support from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee again this election after receiving $350,000 from the pro-Israel group last primary. Samuels said AIPAC "regretted" not offering more support to his campaign, per MinnPost.

Samuels also said he agrees with Omar's sentiments about innocent people dying in Gaza, but slammed Omar for not fully condemning the brutal Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks on Israel, which left 1,200 people dead and saw about 240 others kidnapped.

"She could not admit to the horror of that," Samuels said. "She doesn’t have the balance that’s needed."

Omar condemned Hamas and asked for a ceasefire on Oct. 7, but has continuously criticized Israel ever since as the Hamas-run Gazan Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants, claimed Sunday that the Gaza Strip has suffered more than 11,000 fatalities. 

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News