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1 Week Before Primary, Rhetoric Heats Up Between Rep. Ilhan Omar, Challenger Antone Melton-Meaux

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and her leading opponent, Antone Melton-Meaux, held dueling news conferences Wednesday.

There are signs the race is becoming more competitive. Because the 5th Congressional District is so overwhelmingly Democratic, next Tuesday's primary is widely expected to pick the winner.

READ MORE: Omar, Seeking 2nd Term, Is Targeted For Her Celebrity

The Minnesota DFL party filed a federal elections complaint Tuesday against Melton-Meaux, alleging he illegally concealed the identities of his campaign consultants and some of his contributions. He dismissed the complaint as frivolous, and full of "falsities."

Antone Melton-Meaux
Antone Melton-Meaux (credit: CBS)

"What this really is … frankly a desperate attempt by the DFL to resurrect Congresswoman Omar's campaign that is falling apart. That's what this is," Melton-Meaux said.

His supporters include civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong and former United States Attorney Andy Luger.

"[Melton-Meaux] is a great man," Luger said.

Congresswoman Omar is not commenting on the FEC complaint. In 2019, a conservative group filed an FEC complaint against her concerning payments to her political consultant Tim Mynett, with whom she was reportedly having an affair. She denied the relationship. The two are now married.

Ilhan Omar
Rep. Ilhan Omar (credit: CBS)

Payments to a spouse or friend are legal if they do the work. Mynett is a well-known progressive consultant. But the payments continue to be the source of negative attack ads on Melton-Meaux behalf.

Omar says voters tell her this about the attacks: "How atrocious it is that people spend so much energy in mudslinging. How can somebody run on a campaign to end the divisiveness and bring so much division, so much hate?"

READ MORE: 'It's Not Time For Someone That Wants To Burn Bridges': WCCO Goes 1-On-1 With Omar Challenger Antone Melton-Meaux

Omar supporters include Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of Minnesota's chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile. She praised Omar for passing a bill to guarantee school lunches during the pandemic.

"That is who Ilhan Omar is. She loves her constituents," Castile said.

With the large number of absentee ballots, including those that will be post marked on Aug. 11, Melton-Meaux's staffers say they don't think this election will be settled on election night. Congresswoman Omar agrees that is possible. Both candidates are predicting victory.

In addition to Melton-Meaux, Rep. Omar faces three other Democratic primary challengers: Les Lester, John Mason and Daniel McCarthy.

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