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Election 2020 preview: Minnesota's 5th Congressional District

First-term incumbent Ilhan Omar will face Republican challenger Lacy Johnson.
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Bring Me The News is looking at each of Minnesota's nine congressional races (nine House, one Senate) in the lead-up to Nov. 3.

Today we look at the 5th Congressional District, which includes the city of Minneapolis and some inner ring suburbs in Hennepin County.

Who's running?

  • Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-inc)
  • Lacy Johnson (R)
  • Michale Moore (Legal Marijuana Now)

Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District comprises the city of Minneapolis and some inner ring suburbs in Hennepin and Anoka counties. It is currently represented by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. 

District map

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What happened last time?

On of the country's bluest districts, in 2018 voters elected former state representative Ilhan Omar to the seat after former Congressman Keith Ellison stepped away to run for Minnesota Attorney General.

Omar beat Republican Jennifer Zielinski with nearly 78% of the vote in the 2018 midterm elections. 

The race so far:

Omar faced a tough primary in August, with challenger Antone Melton-Meaux drawing support from PAC and Republican donors.

Omar won with 58% of the vote. Johnson won the August Republican primary with 76% of the vote. Moore was the only Legal Marijuana Now party candidate in the primary. 

Omar remains the target for regular attacks from the right wing, including President Donald Trump. She entered office in January 2019, since when she has become a member of a progressive group of rookie congresswomen known as "The Squad" along with the likes of Reps. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib.

This campaign, she was the subject of a smear attempt by right-wing activist group Project Veritas, which shared dubious videos alleging without evidence that Omar was linked to "ballot harvesting" – which it was also unable to prove – in the 5th District.

Johnson's campaign has been well funded, to the point where he currently has more cash on hand than Omar, with Forum News Service noting he has been "raking in money from around the nation" due to Omar's unpopularity among conservatives.

His campaign has been tinged with tragedy after it emerged that two of his young campaign staffers had been shot in an incident in Minneapolis, with one dying from his injuries.

Where do candidates stand? 

Since her 2018 election, Ilhan Omar has made headlines as the first Somali-American member of Congress. In the past year, Omar has authored legislation centered around criminal justice reform and COVID-19 relief.

After the police killing of George Floyd in the 5th District, Omar introduced multiple bills, including one that would establish a federal agency to investigate deaths in police custody. She also authored the MEALS Act, which passed as part of Congress’s COVID-19 relief package. The bill provided funding for free and reduced lunches for children at schools forced to close during the pandemic.

Omar also supports a Home for All policy, which would provide 8.5 million new units of public housing over the next 10 years, and backs the Green New Deal aimed at tackling climate change and significantly boosting jobs in renewables and energy saving.

Johnson is a Minneapolis-based businessman.  According to his campaign website, Johnson supports Opportunity Zone legislation to incentivize growth in low-income areas.

Johnson stated on his website that he does not support defunding the police, instead advocating for more officers and training. He is also a proponent of school choice, claiming that a wide variety of school options will promote competition and improve education outcomes in the district.

Johnson is endorsed by President Donald Trump. He told the Southwest Journal that he believes his experience in the district qualifies him for the seat.

“I’ve lived in CD5 for over 40 years, much longer than any other candidate. I’ve worked alongside city leaders around education, business development, entrepreneurship, criminal justice reform and neighborhood development,” Johnson said.

Michael Moore is a member of the Legal Marijuana Now Party, which gained major party status in 2018. Moore’s platforms on police reform include eliminating attack dogs, emphasizing community recruitment for officers and using unarmed peace-officers to respond to certain calls.

Moore said on his campaign website that school reopenings during the COVID-19 pandemic need to be informed by local school districts and state governments, rather than federal policy. That is currently how it works in Minnesota.

Moore also told WCCO that legalizing marijuana in recreation Minnesota would promote necessary economic growth.

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