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

Democrat Antone Melton-Meaux's campaign raised $1.5 million in May.
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Rep. Ilhan Omar and Antone Melton-Meaux

As the old saying goes, politics makes strange bedfellows — and that's proving true in the race to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar.

The DFLer, who represents Minnesota's 5th Congressional district, is facing a primary challenge from Antone Melton-Meaux, a Minneapolis lawyer and self-described "lifelong progressive Democrat." 

On his campaign website, Melton-Meaux vows not to get "distracted fighting with Donald Trump on Twitter," and says he's "dedicated to service, not celebrity."

These would seem to be swipes at Omar's high-profile feuds with the Trump family as well as her outspokenness, which has earned her national recognition — not all of it friendly — as a progressive firebrand.

But it's her stances on America's Israel policy — as well as comments that earned her accusations of anti-semitism — that have conservative groups backing Melton-Meaux's effort to unseat her.

According to a report by the Huffington Post, the challenger has raised an impressive amount of money from two "right-leaning" political action committees, Pro-Israel America and NORPAC, through a practice known as donation bundling. 

The website says the groups have bundled "upwards of $450,000 for Melton-Meaux to date," and that in the month of May alone, he raised over $1.5 million.

Omar's tension with pro-Israel conservatives stems from a Feb. 2019 tweet in which she suggested that Republican support for the Israeli government was fueled by money from pro-Israel groups, namely the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Omar had previously shown herself to be a critic of Israel's treatment of Palestinian people, and was a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to censure the country until it follows international law in relation to Palestine.

She also caught considerable flack — and criticism for alleged anti-semitism — for a tweet in which she said that the GOP backing of Israel was "all about the Benjamins."

She subsequently issued an apology for the comments, though without backing down from her views on the role of lobbyists and their influence on public and foreign policy.

Melton-Meaux, meanwhle, has taken a more Israel-friendly stance in his campaign platform, which you can read right here.  

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But opposition to Omar goes beyond Israel policy, with Vox writing that she's endured "Islamophobia, racism, misogyny, and anti-immigration" attacks "from the public, from her opponents, and even from the White House."

Buzzfeed notes that she has become the object of "national obsession" over her public persona, and that this phenomenon is also responsible for Melton-Meaux's fundraising success.  

The site says he has private donations coming in from around the country, including $2,800 given by a retired real estate executive from Miami Beach who "found out about [Melton-Meaux] because I hate his opponent.”

MinnPost has taken a closer look at the race between the two, including controversy over Melton-Meaux's criticism of Black Lives Matter, which you can read right here

The primary election will be held on Tuesday, August 11. 

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