Don Samuels Denies He Made Sexist Statements About Rep. Ilhan Omar Leading Up to August Rematch

by Xara Aziz

One of the most highly anticipated contests is the Fifth Congressional District rematch between Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels kicks off this August.

The August 2022 primary was a surprise, with Samuels nearly defeating Omar, coming within 2 percentage points of the incumbent. The Fifth District includes all of Minneapolis and some inner-ring suburbs, and is predominantly Democratic, making the primary winner the likely victor in the November election.

Omar seems to have learned from her narrow escape two years ago. Her campaign now has more field organizers than ever, including in the suburban parts of the district. Omar faced criticism in 2021 for supporting a controversial Minneapolis referendum to replace the city’s police department. Since then, she has distanced herself from some progressive stances on policing, even helping to negotiate a 2022 bill providing additional funding for police departments nationwide. She also supported President Biden’s reelection early on, despite her past criticism of U.S.-Israeli policy during the Gaza war.

In a November appearance on the podcast “The Break Down,” Samuels controversially commented that Omar is “not cute enough” and doesn’t “dress well enough” to ignore her constituents, sparking backlash. He later denied these remarks on WCCO Sunday Morning, saying his comments were about her constituent service and public accessibility.

Omar criticized Samuels in November for his podcast remarks, calling them beneath the dignity of an adult and reminiscent of misogynistic rhetoric from figures like Donald Trump. She emphasized the need for civility and condemned Samuels’ behavior.

Despite their contentious personal exchanges, Omar and Samuels share similar positions on many issues, including the environment and abortion rights. Both are also advocating for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.

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