Rep. Betty McCollum is facing a primary challenge on her left in the 2022 midterms.
Amane Badhasso, a Muslim originally from Ethiopia, is running to unseat the longtime House member, and according to The Intercept, she raised over $300,000 in the fourth quarter of 2021 alone.
Although Badhasso doesn’t have too many qualms with McCollum’s reliably left-wing voting record, she said she’s running for Congress to help shift the nature of representation itself.
“Here in the progressive movement, we have to think about what ‘Democrat’ actually means beyond just who votes along a certain line,” she told The Intercept. “Frankly, we need a leadership that just gives a damn about folks in the community.”
Bill Harper, McCollum’s chief of staff, said she is not brushing off Badhasso’s challenge. But his comments imply a sense of confusion over why Badhasso is even running in the first place.
“Change just simply for change’s sake is just shuffling the deck chairs. In Congress, seniority matters,” he told The Intercept. “The question I have to ask is why would progressives … want to throw away 22 years of seniority.”
“[McCollum is] the most progressive member of the Minnesota delegation,” he added.
That sense of confusion is also evident in a recent email McCollum sent to Minnesota Democrats.
Citing The Intercept’s report, McCollum wrote that “my campaign received a call from a reporter … [who] said [Badhasso] could not articulate any issues or votes in which she disagrees with me, but she’s running to bring ‘new energy’ to the district.”
“Energy is important, but my energy is focused on governing and chairing the largest and most powerful appropriations subcommittee in Congress,” she added.
McCollum has represented Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District, which includes the city of St. Paul and its suburbs, since 2001. Congressional incumbents are notoriously difficult to unseat, and it may be unclear to voters exactly how McCollum and Badhasso are different — a sentiment that strongly favors the incumbent.
But Badhasso’s background may give her an advantage among residents from East African nations like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, of whom there are a great many in the Twin Cities area, as well as her grassroots progressive activism with TakeAction Minnesota.