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Omar survives surprising nail-biter to win Democratic nomination for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, CNN projects

<i>Elizabeth Flores/AP</i><br/>US Rep. Ilhan Omar waves to passersby for support during a voter engagement event on the corner of Broadway and Central Avenues in Minneapolis
AP
Elizabeth Flores/AP
US Rep. Ilhan Omar waves to passersby for support during a voter engagement event on the corner of Broadway and Central Avenues in Minneapolis

By Eric Bradner, CNN

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar survived a primary challenge Tuesday, CNN projected — but barely, and the narrow result could encourage critics of the progressive “squad” member to try again in two years.

Omar, who is running for a third term in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, held off a primary challenge from former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels and three other Democratic primary candidates, CNN projects.

Omar beat back a well-funded primary rival in 2020, but Samuels, a moderate, entered the race with higher name recognition in the Minneapolis-based district and the support of a big-spending super PAC.

Samuels had run as a pro-police critic of Omar’s calls to “defund the police.” He and his wife successfully sued the city of Minneapolis to force it to increase police staffing levels to the 741 officers required by the city’s charter.

Momentum built behind what had been widely seen as a long-shot challenge after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey endorsed Samuels last week. He was also backed by building trades unions, several suburban mayors and more moderate DFL leaders.

His close call could inspire another effort to oust Omar in 2024. Democrats currently control four out of the state’s eight US House seats to three for the Republicans and one vacancy.

Omar’s victory comes the week after two other liberal members of the “squad,” Missouri Rep. Cori Bush and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, also beat back primary challenges.

Votes were being counted in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Connecticut on Tuesday night following a round of primaries that will further clarify several of November’s key contests.

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