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Primary In Minnesota's 5th Congressional District Will Be Closely Watched

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota's August primary will be a big one. One of the biggest contests is in the Fifth Congressional District where incumbent Rep. Ilhan Omar faces a challenge from former Minneapolis City Councilmember Don Samuels

Federal officials, like members of Congress, have little say when it comes to local law enforcement matters. But that is not preventing candidates running in the Fifth District from weighing in on the future of the Minneapolis Police Department. Omar has been a supporter of the "defund the police" movement, and she was in favor of last year's Minneapolis charter amendment that would have replaced the police department with a Department of Public Safety. That referendum went down to a resounding defeat last November, with 56% of voters voting against the measure.

One of the most visible opponents of the charter amendment was Samuels, a northside resident, who argued that dismantling MPD just as violent crime has been soaring is a bad idea. The issue of policing and public safety is one of the central issues in the Omar-Samuels showdown that's coming up in the August Democratic primary.

Samuels was a guest on WCCO Sunday morning.

Ilhan Omar and Don Samuels
Ilhan Omar and Don Samuels (credit: CBS)

"She has been more divisive than collaborative, more contrarian than cooperative and many times has staked out contrarian position from the Democratic Party and from the interests from the community," Samuels said.

But Omar's position in support of defunding the police was well-known during the 2020 election. The primary that year happened two-and-a-half months after the murder of George Floyd. In that primary, Omar defeated a well-funded challenger, Antone Melton-Meaux, by 20 points. She went on to win the 2022 election by more than 50%.

Going back to the 2018 primary, when Omar was a state representative, she crushed a crowded field that included well-known names like former Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray.

Omar's positions on a number of issues outside her district may be very controversial, but so far in her district she has proven to be popular, winning all of her races by double digits. And because the Fifth District is one of the more Democratic-leaning districts in the country, the winner of that August primary is overwhelmingly favored to win the November general election.

You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning every Sunday at 6 a.m., 7 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

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