Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN) has been a lightning rod for controversy ever since she made some remarks that many people considered anti-semitic. More than a few people in her district want to get rid of her. Former Minneapolis city councilman Don Samuels is one of them. In fact, he has filed to challenge her in the Democratic primary, something he did in 2022 as well. And he almost won.
But he is not alone. Now attorney Sarah Gad, a Muslim, has also filed to run in the primary. Gad has had an unusual career. After a car accident 10 years ago, she became addicted to opioids and ended up in jail. When she got out, she graduated from the University of Chicago Law School and became a defense attorney.
Gad is not exactly pro-Israel, but she is also not anti-Israel. She did say she will not cozy up to AIPAC (America Israel PAC) though. That doesn't mean AIPAC will stay out of the race. They could carpet-bomb the district with negative ads about Omar, without endorsing (or even mentioning) anyone else. The goal would be to drive down Omar's approval rating. Could a moderate Muslim take votes from Omar? Maybe. However, although Gad grew up in Minnesota, she only recently moved to the district after living out of state for many years. Omar is going to call her a carpetbagger.
Another issue is that Samuels and Gad might split the anti-Omar vote and let Omar win with a plurality. Gad has said that she and Samuels are meeting regularly to discuss the campaign to take Omar down. They have agreed that if one of them catches fire, the other will drop out. Of course, if they run even, neither will drop out and Omar will win. This is precisely the situation where ranked-choice voting works. It automatically causes the least popular candidate to drop out after round 1 of the counting, even if the candidate doesn't want to do so. But Minnesota doesn't use ranked-choice voting. Of course the state legislature could yet introduce it, but Omar would have a fit if they did. (V)