Samuels to challenge Omar in DFL primary

A woman speaks while a man next to her looks on.
Former Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels and Northside Achievement Zone CEO Sondra Samuels speak to reporters in Minneapolis. Samuels launched a primary challenge Tuesday against DFL U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Matt Sepic | MPR News 2015

Former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels launched a primary challenge Tuesday against DFL U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Samuels has been a longtime public safety advocate and has voiced his support for the Minneapolis Police Department, which Omar has said should be defunded.

Samuels was also active in the successful campaign to defeat a proposed public safety charter amendment in the city last year.

“The stakes have never been higher,” Samuels said in a statement announcing his campaign. “Our city, our nation, and our world are threatened by devastating economic disparities, the catastrophic effects of climate change, and a sustained attack on democracy here at home and abroad. While Rep. Omar and I share similar views on many issues, I believe this moment calls for a different approach to leadership–one that seeks to build a united coalition able to achieve greater progress for everyone.”

Omar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Samuels said Omar made a mistake by voting against President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan.

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“Too many D.C. politicians find their success through the division and purity politics that have defined our era, and, unfortunately in this case, Rep. Omar’s position was quite literally ‘my way or the highway,’ a position that fails to recognize the tremendous infrastructural needs of our community,” said Samuels.

Former Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo endorsed Samuels’ campaign, and Samuels said public safety is a key area where he disagrees with Omar.

“While Rep. Omar described ‘defund the police’ as a ‘policy demand,’ I share the view of Democrats like former President Barack Obama who believe the slogan created unnecessary alienation at a time when progress on police accountability was most needed,” Samuels said.

Omar successfully defeated a primary challenge from well-funded candidate Antone Melton-Meaux in her 2020 reelection campaign. Samuels backed Melton-Meaux in that campaign.