Omar beat back a well-funded primary rival in 2020, but Samuels, a moderate, entered the race with higher name recognition in the Minneapolis-based district and the support of a big-spending super PAC.
Samuels had run as a pro-police critic of Omar’s calls to “defund the police.” He and his wife successfully sued the city of Minneapolis to force it to increase police staffing levels to the 741 officers required by the city’s charter.
Momentum built behind what had been widely seen as a long-shot challenge after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey endorsed Samuels last week. He was also backed by building trades unions, several suburban mayors and more moderate DFL leaders.
His close call could inspire another effort to oust Omar in 2024. Democrats currently control four out of the state’s eight US House seats to three for the Republicans and one vacancy.
Omar’s victory comes the week after two other liberal members of the “squad,” Missouri Rep. Cori Bush and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, also beat back primary challenges.
Votes were being counted in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Connecticut on Tuesday night following a round of primaries that will further clarify several of November’s key contests.