The freshman Democrat from Minnesota is facing a primary challenge from Antone Melton-Meaux, a Black Minneapolis lawyer who labels himself a “progressive, lifelong Democrat.” Melton-Meaux nearly doubled Omar in campaign funding, reporting $2 million in his campaign coffers at the end of June, as opposed to Omar’s $1.1 million cash on hand.
In a live-streamed “day of action” Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez admitted it was unusual to have such a well-funded primary in a heavily blue district such as Omar’s.
She said funders “usually like to get a bang for their buck” and typically contribute to races that have a chance of tipping a seat from one party to the other.
“So when we’re the ones that are attracting multimillion-dollar primary challengers in an unprecedented way, that just tells you how effective Ilhan is,” she said.
“That tells you how damn effective she is against big real estate, against our military-industrial complex, against our Wall Street complex, against basically every corrupt institution that we have right now in this country.
“And they’re coming for each and every one of us.”
Ocasio-Cortez said it was not “an accident” that she, Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., all had primary challengers. “Because when you speak truth to power, power fights back.”
Ocasio-Cortez brushed aside a well-funded centrist opponent in June.
“And it’s not a coincidence that these primary challengers who have cropped up are funded by Wall Street and dark money. So it’s really one of those big, like, ‘choose your fighter’ moments. Like, are you going to – do you really think that a Wall Street-backed, you know, lobbyist operation is really going to be what’s best for us, or are we going to back grassroots, people-backed candidates?” she continued.
Ocasio-Cortez said there was a lot of “squirming in Washington right now,” and not a lot of political courage.
“Which is why it’s so important that we have folks like Ilhan who are anchoring our Congress around a moral center that is accountable to everyday people, and not lobbyists or corporations that are looking to make a buck off of our public good, off of our public institutions.”
Omar was elected to Congress and 2018 and has been one of the most controversial and outspoken figures in the group of radical left-wing freshman congresswomen known as the “Squad.”
But while her polarizing remarks on subjects such as Israel and police reform have won plaudits from left-wing activists and media outlets across the country, at home it is complicating her reelection bid.
Melton-Meux has promised to “focus on the 5th” and accused Omar of missing votes and of not representing her district – noting that she did not support the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was backed by the rest of the congressional delegation.
“The cold hard truth is the congresswoman has one of the worst voter attendance records in the U.S. House in 2019, she missed 40 votes. That's just the truth,” he said in a debate Friday. “And these are important votes for the residents. She has silenced us on these issues, she's frankly, disenfranchised us on these issues. And when she does vote, she's not voting consistent with the values of this district.”
Omar responded by citing accomplishments, including legislation to hold Brunei accountable and bipartisan legislation to look at human trafficking in Libya.
“I show up not only in the district, but in Congress to fight for us for our progressive values, and that is the consistency in which I do my work,” she said.
Fox News' Adam Shaw contributed to this report.