Ilhan Omar’s opponent endorsed by her city's dominant newspaper

Newspaper political endorsements are almost meaningless in the internet era, but this one is different. The StarTribune is the largest newspaper in Minnesota and s with almost all metropolitan dailies, the Strib is progressive and supports Democrats. The paper has distinguished itself by largely ignoring the many irregularities in the personal and political history of Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents Minneapolis, where the paper is located.

Scott Johnson of Powerline has distinguished himself with his best-in-the-nation coverage of Omar’s scandals and the abandonment of most of these stories by her district’s largest newspaper.

The abdication of the Star Tribune is perhaps the most notable element of this whole matter. The paper’s most read story of 2019 documented the deep fraudulence and dishonesty on which Omar’s career is predicated, yet the Star Tribune’s coverage of the primary race and related issues has been cursory at best. Minneapolis is at a tipping point and yet the paper’s editorial voice has remained silent on the madness in the DFL, of which Omar is the foremost proponent. The editors don’t want to be hated by Omar’s hateful fans. They want to be liked. Their cowardice is total.

I’d like to think that Scott’s truthful accusation stung the paper’s editors, but perhaps it is just their inability to stomach her channeling of vast amounts of campaign cash to her third husband whose firm serves as her campaign consultant and books its advertising, on which healthy commissions are paid. But whatever the reason, the paper has just endorsed her primary opponent in the lection slated for next Tuesday.  

The DFL primary contest between first-term Rep. Ilhan Omar and Antone Melton-Meaux for Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District has become one of the fiercest in the country. After careful consideration and interviews with both, the Star Tribune Editorial Board recommends Melton-Meaux, a first-time candidate with strong progressive values that align well with the district, as well as consensus-building skills honed as a professional mediator.

Melton-Meaux brings a different sensibility to this race, one grounded in helping resolve disputes to move forward — a skill this country is much in need of. His thoughtful approach holds out the promise of building common ground. Whether it’s health care, criminal justice or affordable housing, Melton-Meaux appears progressive, but pragmatic. While Omar wants to lead a movement, Melton-Meaux seeks to serve the Fifth District.

On law enforcement, Melton-Meaux told the Editorial Board regarding the death of George Floyd: “I’ve had my own issues with police, even being detained as a law student by two white officers. I know that could have been a knee on my neck but for a few circumstances.” But instead of Omar’s calls to defund and even dismantle the police, Melton-Meaux would work to create a system in which police are held accountable for their actions.

The editors cite other issues with Omar’s radicalism:

On health care, Omar and Melton-Meaux both support universal coverage. How they get there differs. Omar supports the purist proposal championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders that would dramatically shift the entire system to the federal government. Melton-Meaux more pragmatically builds on the Affordable Care Act by embracing the logical next step, a public option that would offer a government-run insurance program for consumers to voluntarily choose.

The editors generalize Omar’s extremism (my word, not theirs) and inability to compromise:

There are many ways to fight for change, few of them easy when tackling entrenched systems and interests. Omar says she will “fight hard for big ideas.” But the point of the fight, after all, is the change. And that often requires the ability to forge alliances and persuade.

They also note what they gingerly term her comments on Israel “widely regarded as anti-Semitic.”

Omar’s 2018 victory launched her into the national spotlight as the first Muslim woman and first refugee elected to Congress. But her time has been marred by missteps, including remarks on Israel widely regarded as anti-Semitic, an outsized number of missed votes, and campaign-finance issues.

And they use a spokesman for Melton-Meaux to raise the awkward question of Omar’s self-enrichment via campaign donations:

Lee Hayes, a spokesman for Melton-Meaux’s campaign, [had] a chance to note that Omar has sent more than $1.6 million to her husband’s D.C. political consulting firm, E Street Group, and is herself the target of a Federal Election Commission complaint regarding travel expenses.

Omar’ constant evasions of responsibility and embrace of victim status are also noted.

In the Editorial Board interview, Omar took little responsibility for her rocky start, instead largely blaming her critics and saying her failing was perhaps in not realizing what a “special unicorn” she would be in Congress.

Will the endorsement make a difference? My guess is that on its own, it will not. But it may well represent a widely held view among the voters of Minnesota’s Fifth District that Omar is an embarrassment, too slippery, self-righteous, and dodgy to represent the district in such a high-profile manner. Then there is the issue of the vast destruction wreaked on some of the poorer neighborhoods of Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd. Have some voters had enough of radicalism?

Unfortunately, the district is so far left that the very appealing Republican running for the seat has no chance at all. As Powerline’s Johnson notes:

The Fifth District is at least a D+26 district. Whoever wins the DFL primary on August 11, I am sorry to say, will win election to Congress on election day in November.

Fellow Squad member Rashida Tlaib won re-nomination in her primary election last Tuesday by a 20 point margin, as compared to her narrow primary victory in 2018, evidence that the Democrat electorate has moved leftward. So, if Omar is defeated next Tuesday it will be on the basis her of shadiness in politics and her personal life. While I am anxi9us to see her defeated, I am not terribly hopeful.