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Rep. Ilhan Omar wins DFL endorsement over Don Samuels at Minneapolis convention

Omar won her party’s backing ahead of a highly anticipated primary election rematch with Samuels. 

By Ryan Faircloth

SHARI L. GROSS, STAR TRIBUNEU.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar reacts after learning she won the Democratic endorsement over Don Samuels at the Fifth Congressional District’s DFL endorsing convention in Minneapolis on Saturday.

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar won the DFL’s stamp of approval during an endorsing convention in Minneapolis on Saturday, giving her the party’s backing as she heads into a highly anticipated primary election rematch against Don Samuels.

Omar’s voice broke with emotion Saturday afternoon as she thanked convention goers for supporting her. The Minneapolis congresswoman won the DFL endorsement on the first ballot of voting, the first time she’s ever done so.

“It tells me that we should stop listening to the naysayers that talk about the silent majority and listen to the loud majority,” Omar said. “We have a lot of work to do to win the primary in August, and I know that we are going to do it.”

Samuels said he’s still optimistic he will defeat Omar in August. Two years ago, the former Minneapolis City Council member didn’t win the endorsement but came within about two percentage points of defeating the nationally known congresswoman.

“We expect that time is on my side and the second run is in my favor,” Samuels said, noting this campaign will be twice as long as his last.

Samuels and his campaign entered Saturday with the goal of blocking — not winning — an endorsement. They hoped that doing so would attract more attention from voters and donors.

The upcoming rematch between Omar and Samuels is expected to be one of the most closely watched Democratic primary elections in the country. Omar and Samuels have developed a heated rivalry since their close first race.

Dozens of campaign signs bearing the two candidates’ names were planted in the ground outside South High School in Minneapolis on Saturday, where hundreds of DFLers gathered for the convention.

Inside a crowded auditorium, Omar told the crowd that “we have changed the arc of what is possible” during her time in Congress. She said mainstream Democrats are now embracing ideas she’s long championed, such as student debt cancellation and concern for Palestinian human rights.

“My promise to you was to have your back, and I will forever keep that promise,” Omar said, before exiting the stage as scores of her supporters trailed behind chanting, “Ilhan!”

Samuels touted himself as a leader who can bring people together during divisive times. He suggested that Omar is among a current political class that “champion a segment of the population and alienate the rest.”

SHARI L. GROSS, STAR TRIBUNEDon Samuels speaks to delegates during the DFL endorsing convention.

“That can’t happen anymore,” Samuels said to cheers from his supporters. He added that many Americans have stopped speaking to family members or friends because of politics: “There’s an exhausted majority looking … for a new kind of leadership that’s just tired of the drama.”

Two lesser-known Democrats, Air Force veteran Tim Peterson and attorney Sarah Gad, are also running. Peterson and his supporters were at the convention early while Gad’s campaign had no presence.

Peterson, a South High School graduate, described himself as a “proud Hubert H. Humphrey Democrat.” He told the Star Tribune he’s worried about the direction of the Democratic Party, particularly in Minneapolis, where he said, “the extreme left wants to silence people with political violence.”

Source: StarTribune

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