Don Samuels seeks primary rematch against DFL Rep. Ilhan Omar

A man talks at a podium
Don Samuels at The Canopy by Hilton after polls closed in Minneapolis on Aug. 9, 2022. Samuels conceded to Ilhan Omar for the 5th Congressional District seat in the primary election.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News 2022

Next year is shaping up to have a hotly contested rematch in a DFL primary pitting U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar against former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels, who opened a second challenge to the incumbent on Sunday. 

Samuels narrowly lost his first Omar primary race last year, in which she prevailed 50 percent to 48 percent in a five-way contest. Fewer than 2,500 votes separated Omar and Samuels.  

Samuels raised and spent about $1.4 million in the prior campaign; Omar had double that at her disposal, according to Federal Election Commission reports. But Samuels outraised Omar for stretches of the race given that he didn’t get in until March, leaving him fewer than six months before the August primary

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar celebrates her win at the Intercontinental Saint Paul Riverfront hotel on Nov. 8, 2022.
Ben Hovland | MPR News 2022

Samuels said his earlier start this time could help in his bid to secure the DFL nomination in 2024. He said there is a hunger for alternatives.

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“I’m running because there’s a crisis in leadership that’s tearing our country apart,” Samuels said. “There is an exhausted majority that’s no longer talking to friends, that’s no longer watching the news. And I have a history of bringing people together.”

Samuels said he planned to run on both domestic and international issues, which have moved to the fore due to the Israel-Hamas war that has taken a toll in Israel and Gaza.

“I’m going to Congress to work to strengthen our democracy and to bring a reasonable, rational, balanced view to international conflict around the globe,’ he said.”

Samuels also said he will promote stronger public safety programs.

Omar is serving her third term in Congress. Minnesota’s 5th District is centered around Minneapolis.

Asked about the latest Samuels run, Omar responded: “Same old, same old.”

“I’m confident our constituents know who will work for them and their interests and will see through what these campaigns are all about,” she said.

Besides Samuels, there are two other DFL candidates who have opened campaign committees to run in 2024 — Sarah Gad and Timothy Peterson.

There is also one Republican, Dalia Al-Aqidi.

Omar had almost $650,000 in her campaign fund at the end of September, giving her a big head start on those challengers.

MPR News reporter Matt Sepic contributed to this report.