Minneapolis mayor endorses Omar’s primary opponent

Omar was in a similar intraparty battle in 2020 against a well-funded opponent and easily won by almost 20 points. 

Left: Rep. Ilhan Omar (Gage Skidmore/Flickr); Right: Mayor Jacob Frey (Lorie Shaull/Flickr)

Rep. Ilhan Omar’s reelection campaign has fractured the Minnesota DFL, with one of the party’s most prominent officials endorsing Omar’s opponent in Tuesday’s primary.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, whose city Omar represents in Congress, announced his support Thursday of Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis City Council member running against Omar in Minnesota’s Fifth District.

“As our city and nation navigate great challenges, we need partners across levels of government who prioritize teamwork, collaboration, and a seriousness of approach to match the seriousness of the issues we face. This is an endorsement for someone who’s shown an ability to do just that,” Frey said in his endorsement, according to a statement from the Samuels campaign.

The mayor pointed to Samuels’ record as the chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

“Don Samuels fought tirelessly against the violence in neighborhoods across Minneapolis, helping to lower crime by double digits. Don has been an advocate for his community on the Northside for decades, and someone who has worked with city leaders to bring investment to underserved communities,” Frey added.

Frey was joined in endorsing Samuels by the mayors of four other cities in the district, including St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano, Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris, Edina Mayor Jim Hovland, and New Hope Mayor Kathi Hemken.

According to Samuels, these mayors represent three-quarters of the population of Minnesota’s Fifth District.

Samuels has also received the endorsement of the Star Tribune’s editorial board.

Omar, however, maintains the support of dozens of prominent state and national Democrats, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

She also has the endorsement of the Minnesota DFL, four Minneapolis City Council members and the mayors of Robbinsdale, Columbia Heights, and Brooklyn Center.

Campaign finance reports show Samuels outraised Omar by nearly $200,000 and had more cash on hand than the incumbent at the end of the second quarter, according to the Star Tribune.

But Omar was in a similar intraparty battle in 2020 against a well-funded opponent and easily won by almost 20 points.

Frey’s split from Omar could be due to the fact that she endorsed the mayor’s opponents in last year’s municipal elections. She also supported a ballot initiative to replace the Minneapolis Police Department, which both Frey and Samuels actively opposed.

In fact, Samuels is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the city that claims it failed to properly staff its police department.