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

John Mason is a first-time candidate.
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.

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"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. 

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