MINNEAPOLIS—Political tension filled the room on May 11 during the Minnesota Congressional District 5 Nominating Convention, as members of the divided Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) voted for their party’s pick.

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), 41, one of the original four members of the progressive wing of congressional Democrats known as “the Squad,” hung on to win support from the local party despite attempts by two other Democrat candidates to push her out of the running by denying her the party nomination.

The candidate winning the party’s nomination needed 60 percent of the votes. Ms. Omar received 60.5 percent (133 votes), and challenger Don Samuels received 38.64 percent (85 votes).

“I’m very excited about it,“ Ms. Omar told The Epoch Times in the hallway after the vote. ”It’s the first time we won the endorsement on the first ballot. Yeah, really, super excited.”

It is the fourth time that she has gone through the process and prevailed.

Traditionally, after the district convention, candidates who were not nominated drop out and get behind the nominee, although that did not happen in 2022 in Minnesota District 5. Mr. Samuels ran against Ms. Omar in 2022 and lost in the primary by just 2 percent.

Mr. Samuels, who turns 75 on May 13, is a former Minneapolis city councilman. At the convention on May 11, he vowed to stay in the race.

But with the party’s endorsement of Ms. Omar, more donations will come to her already sizable war chest.

Ms. Omar has raised nearly $5 million and has $2.2 million cash on hand. Mr. Samuels has raised $755,000 and has $233,000 cash on hand.

How the Party Endorsement Works

In Minnesota, the congressional primary election run by the state happens on Aug. 13, with mail-in voting running June 28 through Aug. 12, but some members of the Minnesota Democrat Farmer Labor party say their party’s district nominating convention is the more important than the primary because, typically, candidates have little chance of winning the primary without the endorsement of their party—although Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, did not get the party nomination and still won the seat.

The convention voters are delegates who undergo a monthslong approval process starting in January before they are allowed on the floor to vote in the DFL nomination process. There are also “super delegates,” who are elected office holders who are members of the DFL.

Mr. Samuels had three super delegates, and, in a last-minute surprise to his supporters, Ms. Omar had 28 super delegates.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison nominated Ms. Omar for endorsement and voted for her. Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) also voted for Ms. Omar as super delegates.

“This is a divisive time. People believe that democracy is actually at risk,“ Mr. Samuels said in his endorsement speech. ”Thirty-eight percent of our neighbors, of Americans, no longer speak to a family member or friends because of politics. There’s an exhausted majority looking to find new leadership that’s just tired of the drama. There a class of leadership today who champions an issue or champions a segment of the population abdicating the rest—that can’t happen anymore. It won’t happen in our district. I want to bring people together, and I know how.”

A third candidate, Timothy L. Peterson, 44, was nominated for endorsement, but after giving a speech that received cheers from the audience, he bowed out of the race and endorsed Mr. Samuels.

“We are in an era of political demagogues where some want to tear down democracy, silence and dehumanize folks, and use political violence as a way to power,” Mr. Peterson said. “Because bringing folks together is much harder than dividing the country. If our country was so bad, why [are] billions of downtrodden folks from all over the world [going to] such dangerous lengths to be a part of our great nation?”

In this diverse district, with one of Minnesota’s highest concentrations of Jewish voters and a large Muslim population, Ms. Omar has offended some constituents, and pleased others, over alleged anti-Semitic remarks and full-throated Palestinian support.

Abdul Ahmed, 51, who lives in the district, came from Ethiopia 24 years ago. He told The Epoch Times that he has come from a country where there was no transparency in government and that this was his first time seeing the process. It made him happy to see such transparency in action, he said.

Jacque Erickson, 64, supports Mr. Samuels. She said he has a lot of the same policy ideas as Ms. Omar but is less abrasive. She recalled meeting with Ms. Omar when she first ran for Congress.

“I asked her, because I know coming from a Republican family that if you want to get anything done, you have got to convince the other side of some of your ideas, and so I said to her, ‘What are you going to do to convince the other side?’“ Ms. Erickson told The Epoch Times. ”And she said: ‘Well, my ideas are so sound, I don’t have to convince anybody.’ And I just thought, ‘How arrogant.’”

Of the members of the Squad in Congress, she prefers the style of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “She doesn’t make incendiary remarks,“ she said. ”Everything that she says is very well thought out.”

Ms. Erickson recounted a story about Mr. Samuels, who was nearly mugged by two juveniles. Instead of having them arrested, he handed them his card and offered them help.

“Don Sanders has a lot of integrity. And that is the most important thing I look at,” Ms. Erickson said.

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