Omar gets a second Democratic challenger in 5th District race

A woman smiles and waves as she walks to a podium.
Rep. Ilhan Omar takes the stage to introduce Sen. Bernie Sanders at a rally inside of Williams Arena in Minneapolis on Nov. 3, 2019.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

A new Democratic candidate has jumped into the race for Minnesota’s 5th District, challenging freshman incumbent Ilhan Omar for the party’s nomination in the 2020 election.

Antone Melton-Meaux, an attorney and volunteer minister who lives in the uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, announced his campaign Wednesday morning. He said he’s running on creating opportunities for people in the community and would be focused on the district as a member of Congress.

“My wife and I are raising our children in Minneapolis and we love this community, but we also see the challenges ahead,” he wrote. “I want to work to create for our District the kinds of opportunities I’ve been so fortunate to enjoy throughout my life. Most importantly, as your next congressperson, I am and always will be focused on the 5th [District].”

Melton-Meaux runs his own mediation practice and is a volunteer minister at Salem English Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He’s the second Democrat to announce a challenge to Omar, a former state legislator who is serving her first term in Congress. Ervan Katari Miller was the first Democrat to file paperwork to run against her.

The 5th District, which covers Minneapolis and some surrounding suburbs, is one of the most reliably Democratic congressional districts in the nation.

Omar’s national profile has risen dramatically since she won the seat in 2018. She’s the first Somali-American lawmaker in Congress and the first person to wear a hijab on the floor of the U.S. House. But she’s also drawn plenty of criticism from members of her own party for comments early in her term that called up a stereotype that Jewish people use money to gain power.

She’s also a frequent target for President Trump in his tweets and already has four Republican Party challengers and one Independence Party challenger in 2020.

Twitter recently banned one of her Republican challengers, Danielle Stella, over a tweet that said Omar should be “tried for #treason and hanged.” Stella was referring to unfounded claims that Omar gave sensitive information to Iran as an alleged "Qatari asset.”

The treason claim also appeared in a recent fundraising pitch for George Buck, a Republican Florida congressional candidate.

“We should hang these traitors where they stand,” the email said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Omar has strongly denied these allegations.

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