In a relatively short time, a political showdown that was
hitherto thought ‘impossible” has developed in the “safe”
5th congressional district (CD-5) in Minnesota that includes
the city of Minneapolis and some of its suburbs.
First-term Democratic (DFL) incumbent Ilhan Omar became
known as one of the more radical U.S. house members, and
joined with three other congresswomen to form what has
been labelled “The Squad” as they promoted public policy
schemes previously regarded as politically too extreme.
Nonetheless, most of her views seemed to be shared by a
majority of CD-5 voters, and her re-election seemed assured.
It was her personal style, family controversies, and some
unpopular foreign policy views, plus a high congressional
voting absentee record, however, which drew increased
opposition in the district, and brought several challengers
to the DFL primary against her on August 11.
One of those challengers, Antone Melton-Meaux, has emerged
as a serious opponent, and while Omar remains the favorite
to win the primary, he has seemingly developed considerable
late-breaking momentum. Having outraised Omar in campaign
funding in the most recent quarter, Melton-Meaux first caught
media attention relatively late in the primary campaign, but
with an independent PAC sending out almost daily
criticisms of Omar’s first-term record, his own broadcast
advertising, and an effective performance in their only
face-to-face debate, it has become clear that his candidacy has
Although their ideologies are similar, the candidates have very
different public styles. Melton-Meaux has attracted a large
number of volunteers throughout the district, and is believed
to have a serious get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort underway.
Omar has the normally effective DFL establishment GOTV
apparatus on her side. Incumbents rarely lose their primaries.
In a late-breaking development, Melton-Meaux received a
strong endorsement from the largest daily newspaper in the
district. This endorsement and the public endorsements
from some very prominent local DFL figures and officials
offsets the usual DFL party support of incumbents. Observers
say DFL loyalists can now easily vote for challenger
Melton-Meaux who has run as a lifetime progressive Democrat.
Two of the three other “Squad” members had serious primary
challengers this year, but easily survived. The question is
whether Minnesota CD-5 will be different. It appears that
Melton-Meaux will carry the Minneapolis suburbs where Omar
is no longer popular, so the race will probably be decided by
the DFL turnout in the inner city. A Melon-Meaux win would be
a major upset with national resonance.
Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.