Dominating Victory: Rep. Ilhan Omar Secures DFL Endorsement, Outshining Don Samuels at Minneapolis Convention

Omar emerged as the favored candidate of her party in anticipation of a crucial primary election rematch against Samuels. 

U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar expressed her gratitude upon securing the Democratic endorsement over Don Samuels at the Fifth Congressional District’s DFL endorsing convention in Minneapolis over the weekend. SHARI L. GROSS, STAR TRIBUNE

Ilhan Omar, a U.S. Representative from Minneapolis, clinched the DFL’s endorsement during a convention in the city, setting the stage for her highly awaited primary showdown with Don Samuels.

An emotional Omar thanked the convention attendees for their support on Saturday, noting that this was the first time she had obtained the DFL endorsement in a single ballot.

“This outcome shows that we must ignore the doubters who talk about the silent majority and focus on the vocal majority,” Omar remarked. “We have a lot of groundwork to cover to win the primary in August, and I am confident that we will achieve this goal.”

However, Samuels remains upbeat about his chances to unseat Omar in August. In the previous election, he narrowly missed defeating the nationally recognized congresswoman despite failing to secure the endorsement.

“I believe that time is in my favor, and this campaign will be twice as long as the previous one,” Samuels remarked optimistically.

Samuels and his team aimed to block, rather than secure, an endorsement at the convention, hoping to draw additional attention from voters and donors.

The upcoming rematch between Omar and Samuels is poised to become one of the most closely monitored Democratic primary contests nationwide. The rivalry between the two candidates has intensified since their inaugural close race.

The exterior of South High School was adorned with campaign signs featuring the candidates’ names as hundreds of DFL members assembled for the convention.

Addressing the crowd within the packed auditorium, Omar touted her efforts in Congress, claiming that mainstream Democrats are increasingly embracing her longstanding policy proposals, including student debt relief and advocacy for Palestinian rights.

“I pledged to support you, and I will always keep that promise,” Omar declared before departing the stage as her supporters echoed, “Ilhan!”

Samuels positioned himself as a unifying figure amidst a divisive political landscape, criticizing Omar and suggesting that she caters to a specific segment of the population while alienating the rest.

“This scenario cannot persist,” Samuels asserted to the applause of his followers, highlighting a broad fatigue among Americans with the existing political drama.

Two relatively unknown Democrats, Air Force veteran Tim Peterson and attorney Sarah Gad, are also in the running. While Peterson had a presence at the convention, Gad’s campaign was notably absent.

Peterson, a graduate of South High School, described himself as a proud supporter of Hubert H. Humphrey’s progressive democratic ideals. He expressed concerns about the direction of the Minneapolis Democratic Party, alleging that the extreme left seeks to stifle dissent through violent means.

Asserting his commitment to defeating Omar, Peterson accused the congresswoman of exacerbating political tensions in the district, contributing to escalating conflict and division.

In a surprising turn of events, Peterson withdrew his endorsement bid on Saturday and threw his support behind Samuels.

Don Samuels addressing delegates at the DFL endorsing convention. SHARI L. GROSS, STAR TRIBUNE

The winner of the primary in August between Omar and Samuels is virtually guaranteed to clinch victory in November, securing representation for Minnesota’s reliably democratic Fifth Congressional District, encompassing Minneapolis and neighboring areas.

Omar maintained a significant fundraising lead over Samuels, amassing close to $1.7 million in the initial quarter of the year compared to his $400,000.

Omar feels that this election will not be as competitive as the previous one, attributing the earlier contest’s challenges to divided attention and now focusing squarely on her matchup against Samuels.

An outspoken advocate for a Gaza ceasefire and vocal critic of Israel, Omar believes that her stance aligns with the sentiments of many constituents. Signs supporting a ceasefire were displayed inside South High School, underscoring her stance.

The ongoing conflict in Gaza was a paramount concern for Lexy Courneya, a delegate alternate supporting Omar, who commended the congresswoman’s unwavering advocacy for Palestinians.

“I firmly believe that Israel is perpetrating genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, funded by American taxpayers,” Courneya stated.

Courneya and other young individuals aimed to discuss the Gaza conflict with Omar during the convention, urging her to reconsider her endorsement of President Joe Biden, whom they blame for enabling Israel’s actions.

“We want her presidential endorsements to align with her human rights stance,” Courneya stressed. “Currently, there’s inconsistency between her call for a ceasefire and her backing of Joe Biden.”

Samuels has criticized Omar for polarizing her district, particularly regarding her statements on the Gaza conflict, which he views as one-sided, neglecting the sentiments of the Jewish community. He has shifted his focus from past grievances about policing to critique her current stance on Israel.

Eighteen-year-old Samuels delegate Ethan Litman expressed his dissatisfaction with Omar’s approach towards Israel, decrying her remarks about Jewish students as divisive and potentially antisemitic.

“Her comments have been inflammatory and close to antisemitism,” said Litman, a high school senior and first-time voter at Armstrong High School.

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