U.S. House 5th District: Ilhan Omar challenged in bid for second term

U.S. House 5th District

An Uptown mediation lawyer is posing the best-funded challenge to first-term DFL Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose left-wing policy views and status as one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress vaulted her to national prominence but who has been criticized by Republicans and some in her party for comments on the political influence of Israel.

DFLer Antone Melton-Meaux raised over $3.2 million between April and June in his bid to unseat Omar, and he had almost twice as much cash on hand as of June 30. (More than 90% of Melton-Meaux’s funding comes from individual contributions over $200; about 40% of Omar’s money is from large donors.) Also running to represent the DFL are John Mason, Daniel Patrick McCarthy and Les Lester.

The primary winner will be heavily favored in the general election in the staunchly Democratic district.

Three Republicans are vying to become their party’s nominee, including Lacy Johnson, a North Minneapolis businessman who has the party’s endorsement and has also been endorsed by President Trump.

Omar was endorsed by the DFL.

The Southwest Journal asked the three Republican and five DFL candidates to submit statements on why they’re best for the job and what their priorities would be if elected. Every DFL candidate except John Mason responded. Republican Danielle Stella did not respond. Dalia Al-Aqidi will be listed on the ballot, but she said she has suspended her campaign and is supporting Johnson.


Les Lester
Les Lester

Les Lester

Occupation: Reporter, author and teacher

Endorsements: Did not seek formal endorsements

Why he is best for the job

Les Lester, a MacArthur Fellowship recipient, has done research on sustainable development and global change. He says the world’s economy would have evolved into utilizing a universal basic income (UBI) by 2030, because of A.I. He urges a $2,000 per person UBI. He says the money will be reinvested into the economy creating jobs and additional taxes. He maintains that the nearly 40-year elusive attempt to find a vaccine for HIV/AIDS portends the coronavirus’ future.

Top priorities if elected

(1) Les will work to ensure the implementation of the universal basic income (UBI), if there has not been a cure found for the coronavirus.

(2) Since a vaccine may not be found in the near future, he will look into initiating a framework for ongoing remote online education, which could save millions of dollars in heating, building maintenance and transportation costs.

(3) He will continue the work to ensure single-payer health care is realized in the U.S.

(4) He will work to reinstate the FCC’s fairness doctrine, which required contrasting views to be presented on American television. He says with its repeal, in 1987, the advent of non-vetted ideas proliferating on TV worked to open the gates for unprecedented cultural changes heretofore unimagined.

(5) Racism reduction. He says he will work to ensure the Secretary of Education is sensitive to the need to espouse the full classical Black history in America’s schools. He says this will contribute to raising Black esteem and mitigating the school-to-prison pipeline, lessening crime rates.

John Mason

Mason did not respond to the Southwest Journal’s questionnaire.

Daniel McCarthy
Daniel McCarthy

Daniel Patrick McCarthy

Occupation: Lawyer and immigration officer (retired)

Endorsements: None sought or received

Why he is best for the job

McCarthy’s bio highlights: Desert Storm veteran, legal aid lawyer, immigration officer — featuring refugee interviews, two years posted with a US Embassy (in Accra, Ghana), policy analysis, supervision — civil rights/employment attorney, small business owner, volunteer with months’ worth of canvassing in what’s now the Fifth District. Two decades of federal service and 10 years practicing law in varied settings give McCarthy a broad, people-oriented perspective to give voice to metro Minnesotans and reform both justice and government.

Top priorities if elected

Pass laws 1) eliminating police unions (unless a comprehensive package of reforms were imposed instead) and 2) requiring that for any disease with pandemic potential the U.S. must immediately adopt any relevant diagnostic test approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) unless and until a domestic equivalent becomes available; and advocate for a bold reallocation of resources in line with vastly transformed 21st-century threats to American security. In foreign affairs, that would entail substantially defunding the oversized, bureaucratic, mission-creep, war-oriented Pentagon and re-equipping the beleaguered State Department to pursue robust diplomacy. For economic security, it’d mean massive investments in infrastructure — especially to mitigate the effects of climate change. For environmental protection, similar-scale budgetary shifts need to support clean energy and sustainable power consumption. For fiscal viability, a wealth tax aimed mainly at the over-privileged 1% can supplement savings from streamlining our military. In terms of civil service, McCarthy would tirelessly drive oversight to incentivize the recruitment, retention, and promotion of diverse staff with integrity, talent, and dedication to agency missions, while disfavoring favoritism.

Antone Melton-Meaux
Antone Melton-Meaux

Antone Melton-Meaux

Occupation: Mediation lawyer

Endorsements: Former 5th District candidate Leila Shukri Adan; civil rights leader Josie R. Johnson; former Medtronic CEO Bill George; former U.S. attorney for Minnesota Andy Luger; former Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy Armstrong; Golden Valley mayor Shep Harris

Why he is best for the job

I’m the best candidate to represent CD5 because, as an attorney, mediator, and minister, my life’s work is dedicated to bringing people together, finding common ground, and successfully reaching just and equitable solutions. In Congress, my unifying skills will mean that people get real progress on issues that matter to them. This district needs a representative who works on behalf of all of us and delivers results. That’s what I’ll do.

Top priorities if elected

In Congress, I’ll be focused entirely on helping the people of the Fifth by addressing the unacceptable inequities that are reality for too many of us. My priorities include ensuring a swift, safe, and equitable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, and I’ll also work to redesign public safety, to reduce police and gun violence, and to improve community safety by investing in crucial community services. We also must prioritize reforming our healthcare system to ensure universal primary care coverage, bring down costs, and improve patient health.

We must ensure that no one is left behind in this crisis and that the recovery doesn’t set us back in the fight against climate change as we transition to a clean 21st-century economy. We must also invest in public education to make sure that all of our students are receiving the best possible education and prioritize closing the achievement and attainment gaps between white students and students of color.

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar (Incumbent)

Endorsements: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison; Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi; Speaker of the Minnesota House Melissa Hortman; U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders; Minnesota DFL

Top priorities if reelected

As your representative in Congress, I’m fighting for big structural changes to address systematic inequalities in education, health, environment, and the economy. This means preventing climate catastrophe with the Green New Deal, ensuring healthcare is treated as the human right it is with Medicare For All, making sure college is accessible to all —not a debt sentence — by canceling student debt, and ending homelessness with my Homes For All bill.

Top accomplishments of her first term

Since taking office in January of 2019, I have served as the Whip of the Progressive Caucus, Vice Chair of the Medicare For All Caucus, and Midwest Regional Whip of the House Democratic Caucus.

My achievements include:

  • Leading the entire Minnesota delegation in amendments passed and in legislation introduced.
  • The 17 bills and amendments passed include my MEALS act, which provides more than 20 million kids with federally subsidized school lunches.
  • This bill was signed into law as part of Families First Coronavirus Response Act. I’m proud to be one of the small number of freshmen who had legislation that is now law.
  • The 48 bills and amendments introduced include a bill to cancel student debt, and most recently, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. This bill includes my Federal Relief Fund to help communities rebuild, which is greatly needed here in Minneapolis following the uprising.
  • Returning $478,000 to constituents through the hundreds of cases my District Office has handled.


Lacy Johnson
Lacy Johnson

Lacy Johnson

Occupation: Computer Technologist & Businessman/

Entrepreneur Endorsements: Minnesota GOP and President Trump

Why he is best for the job

I’ve lived in CD5 for over 40 years, much longer than any other candidate. I’ve worked alongside city leads around education, business development, entrepreneurship, criminal justice reform, and neighborhood development. I care about my community as the agenda I am pushing is not to serve myself or my colleagues, but my community. I have over 70,000 donors supporting me. I did not rely on political action committees like my opponents — but rather the support of U.S citizens who understand I am here for the people of District 5. To put it simply — my character. I am honest, trustworthy, and have a deep concern, understanding, and connection with the people of CD5 and the issues we are facing.

Top priorities if elected:

  • Economy
  • Education
  • Family

Danielle Stella

Stella did not respond to the Southwest Journal’s questionnaire.