Challenger Melton-Meaux outraises Rep. Ilhan Omar

Defund police march in northeast Minneapolis
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks to a crowd gathered on Saturday, June 6, 2020 in Minneapolis.
Stephen Maturen | Getty Images

Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, normally a safe Democratic seat, is shaping up to be the most expensive election in the state this year.

First-term U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s national profile has helped inspire a flood of donations to both her challenger in August’s DFL primary, Antone Melton-Meaux, as well as the most prominent Republican running for the seat, Lacy Johnson.

Melton-Meaux raised an eye-popping $3.2 million from April to June, several times more than Omar’s $471,000. He has twice as much money in the bank as Omar for the final month before the August primary.

A man sits and looks at the camera.
Antone Melton-Meaux is a DFL candidate challenging Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

His support includes $487,000 bundled by two pro-Israel political organizations, NORPAC and the Pro-Israel America PAC. Omar has come under fire for comments critical of Israel that critics said were anti-Semitic

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The 5th District is overwhelmingly Democratic, and the winner of the August DFL primary is likely to win the November general election comfortably. But even the endorsed Republican candidate, Lacy Johnson, took in more than $2 million in the second quarter of the year. 

Most of Johnson’s fundraising came from small donations, including a lot solicited through more than $700,000 in spending on direct mail. 

Omar, meanwhile, also raised the bulk of her $471,000 in fundraising from small donations. 

The $5.7 million in combined donations for Omar, Melton-Meaux and Johnson is nearly twice as much as the major candidates raised for an ostensibly more important race: Minnesota’s U.S. Senate seat. DFL Sen. Tina Smith took in $2.2 million in the second quarter, while Republican frontrunner Jason Lewis raised $833,000. Smith has $5.8 million in the bank to Lewis’s $927,000.

In other news from Wednesday’s campaign finance reports:

  • In the 1st District in southern Minnesota, Democratic challenger Dan Feehan took in $705,000, more than twice as much as incumbent Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s $300,000. Feehan, who is seeking a rematch after losing to Hagedorn in 2018, has nearly $1.7 million in the bank against Hagedorn’s $945,000.

  • In the south-suburban 2nd District, incumbent Rep. Angie Craig also got outraised by her challenger. Craig, a Democrat, took in a solid $730,000, but endorsed Republican candidate Tyler Kistner topped her with $747,000 — nearly half of which was in small donations. Craig still has an edge in cash-on-hand with $2.5 million versus Kistner’s $511,000.

  • The west-suburban 3rd District saw incumbent Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips barely outraise Republican challenger Kendall Qualls, $329,000 to $314,000. Qualls also had slightly more money in the bank than Phillips, who is finishing his first term.

  • The 7th District, which occupies a vast area of western Minnesota, saw former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach far outraise her major rival in the Republican primary, 2018 nominee Dave Hughes. Fischbach took in $317,000 versus less than $5,000 for Hughes, and has $434,000 in the bank to Hughes’ $2,823. Awaiting the winner in the general election is incumbent DFL Rep. Collin Peterson, who raised $278,000 and has $1.3 million in the bank.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to account for money raised by candidates Tina Smith, Angie Craig, Dean Phillips, Jim Hagedorn, Dan Feehan and Michelle Fischbach through joint fundraising accounts, which the Federal Election Commission classifies differently than normal contributions. Accounting for this fundraising means Phillips slightly outraised challenger Kendall Qualls, rather than the reverse as originally reported.