In a surprising snub, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has endorsed Rep. Ilhan Omar’s primary opponent, Antone Melton-Meaux, in the August 11 primary. The endorsement comes after several controversies engulfed Omar, including questions about her marriages and campaign finance irregularities.
The newspaper, which has a statewide reach, is known for its far-left advocacy of issues and support for radical candidates. But it appears that its refusal to back Omar has more to do with her incendiary rhetoric and ethical questions than her politics.
“After careful consideration and interviews with both, the Star Tribune Editorial Board recommends Melton-Meaux, a first-time candidate with strong progressive values that align well with the district, as well as consensus-building skills honed as a professional mediator,” the paper announced ahead of the Aug. 11 primary.
The Star Tribune praised Melton-Meaux for bringing a “different sensibility” that’s “grounded in helping resolve disputes to move forward” and “building common ground.”
Omar is one of the biggest bomb-throwers of any representative of either party on Capitol Hill. She is a member of “The Squad” of radicals that includes Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Presley, as well as Omar. They were called the “future of the Democratic Party” when they arrived, but their incendiary rhetoric and support for opponents of Democratic incumbents have lost them a considerable number of friends.
But their supporters, especially among the young, have been unaffected. They are the rock stars of Congress and the Strib coming out against them is a significant development.
“Whether it’s health care, criminal justice or affordable housing, Melton-Meaux appears progressive, but pragmatic,” the editorial board explained. “While Omar wants to lead a movement, Melton-Meaux seeks to serve the Fifth District.”
The paper unfavorably compared Omar’s desire to “defund and even dismantle the police” and pursue Medicare-for-all to Melton-Meaux wanting to “create a system in which police are held accountable for their actions” and build upon the Affordable Care Act.
So Melton-Meaux is still a radical, but not a bridge-burner. Sometimes, you prefer the bridge-burner who doesn’t try to hide his radicalism behind a “pragmatic” exterior.
The Star-Tribune did not call for Omar’s resignation after her anti-Semitic comments about Israel or her questionable campaign expenditures. After all, she’s not a Republican. She may have tried to spread the blood libel that pro-Israel members of Congress have been bought by AIPAC, but she’s still a Democrat.
She’s one of them. But they still criticized Omar for her (monumental) “missteps.”
The editorial board also knocked Omar’s “missteps,” including her inflammatory comments about Israel and her campaign-finance issues, notably claims that Omar sent at least $1.6 million to her husband’s political consulting firm.
“It is just these kinds of ethical distractions that the Fifth District could do without,” the Star Tribune continued. “In the Editorial Board interview, Omar took little responsibility for her rocky start, instead largely blaming her critics and saying her failing was perhaps in not realizing what a ‘special unicorn’ she would be in Congress.”
Melton-Meaux would be a welcome change from Omar, if only because he’s a lot quieter and not as much of a hypocrite. Also, he didn’t marry his sister or give millions of dollars to his wife for “campaign consulting.” So if the choice is between the devil and the deep blue sea, I think I’ll go swimming.