Minneapolis entrepreneur, activist to challenge Rep. Ilhan Omar in Democratic primary

John Mason is a first-time candidate.
Publish date:
John Mason

A Democratic candidate has announced plans to primary U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar for her seat in Minnesota 5th District. 

John Mason, described in a release as "an accomplished diversity & inclusion Executive, community organizer/activist, entrepreneur, and civic leader," announced that he'll run as a DFL challenger against Rep. Omar in the next Minnesota Democratic primary. 

The 2020 Democratic primary vote in Minnesota is scheduled for Mar. 3, 2020. 

Mason would make history if elected, as he would become the first openly gay black man in the U.S. Congress. Omar's historic election made her the first Somali-American refugee elected to Congress, as well one of two Muslim women to serve in Congress.  

"Our inclusivity is our strength and our Minnesota values guide the way," said Mason, who lives in Minneapolis, in a release.

Mason's campaign site says he was a strategist for his husband, Nick Leonard, who ran for Al Franken's vacated U.S. Senate seat in 2018, and has also worked on voter registration for the Obama campaign.

"During this time of increasing vitriol and obstruction in politics, with special interests working only to divide us here at home and abroad - the good people of Minnesota need to know that we can come together as a community with a common goal to better our neighborhoods, our economy, our schools, and our health. To this I say: Of course we can!" Mason said.

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

"We must continue to build on the accomplishments of President Obama on Healthcare, Education, Economic Opportunities, Gun Control, and the Environment," Mason said in his announcement. "We must condemn all forms of hate, including Anti-Semitic tropes, comments, and innuendo, as well as covert bias on race, sexual orientation, and gender."

The reference to "antisemitic tropes" is a nod to Rep. Omar's problems with this during her short time in Congress, which has seen her rebuked by Republicans and Democrats on occasions for her use of language when criticizing the Israeli regime of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Omar, meanwhile, has raised approximately $1.1 million in fundraising over the past three months, according to the Star Tribune. She was also again the target of President Donald Trump when he held a rally at Target Center in Minneapolis last week. 

Next Up

covid-19, vaccine

Minnesota changes vaccine appointment process, here's what to know

Walz also announced plans for a mass vaccination event at Xcel Energy Center.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, Jan. 25

The latest figures from MDH have been released.

covid-19, vaccine

Minnesota health leaders say state's vaccine progress better than figures suggest

Minnesota is lagging behind national vaccination rates, but MDH leaders say this is because it's holding 2nd doses in reserve.

target store

Target announces bonuses ranging from $500-$2,000 for 375,000 workers

The bonuses are being provided following a booming holiday sales season.

dale olsen go fund me

Curling community rallies behind man who was shot in Minneapolis

Dale Olsen was shot in an apparent attempted robbery.


Willmar man's coworkers fundraise to help family after he was fatally shot

David Delfosse was working in his garage when he was killed by an errant bullet.

Governor Tim Walz

Governor Walz to announce 'sweeping' education plan Monday

The governor will address Minnesota at 2 p.m. Monday.

sun country

Sun Country adds 9 more flights out of MSP Airport

The new additions include large cities and popular outdoor destinations.

Zach Parise

Ghosts of Wild's past force split with Sharks

Brent Burns and Ryan Donato thwarted a comeback attempt by the Wild.


Screen Shot 2019-10-15 at 10.50.42 PM

Rep. Ilhan Omar endorses Bernie Sanders for President

She's the only Minnesotan DFL representative not to endorse Amy Klobuchar.

Rep. Ilhan Omar and Antone Melton-Meaux

Reports: 'Right-leaning' PACs funding Ilhan Omar's primary challenger

Democrat Antone Melton-Meaux's campaign raised $1.5 million in May.


Rep. Ilhan Omar facing rebuke by Democrats on House floor

Democrats are reportedly formulating a resolution following more claims of anti-Semitism.

Ilhan Omar

Republican's campaign letter says Ilhan Omar should be 'hanged'

The candidate has denied the letter, saying his campaign manager wrote it.

Rep. Ilhan Omar and Antone Melton-Meaux

DFL to file FEC complaint against Ilhan Omar's primary opponent

The DFL is accusing Melton-Meaux's campaign of violating federal election law.

Rep. Ilhan Omar

Rep. Ilhan Omar pulls no punches in statement on Trump's COVID diagnosis

She said Trump and the GOP are "actively spreading a deadly virus."

Rep. Ilhan Omar calls for marijuana legalization at the federal level

The congresswoman says states shouldn't get to "pick and choose" on the issue.

Ilhan Omar

Rep. Ilhan Omar beats Antone Melton-Meaux in DFL primary

The rookie Congresswoman is set for a second term.