Samuels hopes early start will help in 5th District primary

Samuels hopes early start will help in 5th District primary

Samuels hopes early start will help in 5th District primary

Don Samuels begins his second try to defeat incumbent Congresswoman Ilhan Omar with a renewed sense of purpose and a longer timeline.

“We’re starting in November instead of April,” Samuels told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in an interview recorded for “At Issue” that will air on Sunday morning. “So we’re doubling the campaign time. A lot of people thought I couldn’t win (last time). Even friends.”

Although he came close, the fact is he did not win in 2022. Omar held on to win by a 50% to 48% margin, about 2,500 votes.

Samuels thinks he can make up that margin by campaigning earlier and because the Israel-Hamas war has put Omar in a negative spotlight again regarding her views on Israel.

“She has alienated and even frightened members of the Jewish community and beyond and people are clearly concerned,” Samuels says. When it’s pointed out she’s been reelected by a wide margin a few times, Samuels responded, “She even had strong Jewish support. She even had my support. I voted for her and a lot of people I know for her, but she has eroded that trust.”

Although he’s often asked about Omar, Samuels says he’s not just an “anti-Omar” candidate. He says he’s running to focus on issues important to people in the 5th District, like crime and public safety.

“I know how to get along with people across differences and disagreements,” he says. “I know how to not turn my office into an opportunity for fame and fortune. But to go in there not to make a point, but to get the job done.”

Omar issued a response to Samuels’ entry into the 5th District race.

“I’m incredibly proud of the model of co-governance we’ve built in the 5th District, which has included monthly town halls, routine constituent service resource fairs and a brand new district office,” the statement says. “I’ve brought over $40 million to the district in the form of community projects —including a brand new affordable housing facility for veterans in Robbinsdale. As a leader of the House Budget Committee and Progressive Caucus, I’ve continued to fight for the progressive values Minnesotans sent me to advocate for — whether it’s fighting to codify Roe v. Wade into law, pushing for historic climate legislation, addressing the opioid crisis or fighting for an assault weapons ban.”

Sarah Gad and Tim Peterson have also announced they’re running against Omar in the Aug. 13 primary.