US House race to watch: Ilhan Omar vs Lacy Johnson

Somali-American congresswoman is expected to get re-elected by a wide margin in the heavily Democratic fifth district of Minnesota.

In 2018, Omar won by 56 points over her Republican challenger [File: Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters]
In 2018, Omar won by 56 points over her Republican challenger [File: Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters]

Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar is seeking her second term in Congress.

One of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress in 2018, Omar, 38, is well-known as a member of the so-called “Squad” of four freshman liberal Democratic congresswomen.

She is also the first Somali-American member of the US Congress.

The candidates

Omar is competing against Republican challenger Lacy Johnson for Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional district.

Michael Moore from the Legal Marijuana Now Party is the third candidate in this race.

Their backgrounds

Omar has built a national profile that started when the one-time refugee from Somalia was elected to the Minnesota Legislature in 2016.

Her aggressive advocacy on liberal issues, anti-Israel comments and eagerness to take on US President Donald Trump have made her even more prominent.

She has frequently become a target of criticism and defamatory comments from the president and other Republicans.

Last month, Omar hit back at Trump, calling him “racist” after he disparaged her during a campaign rally and falsely implied that she is not American.

Omar is vocal in her opposition to other US-foreign allegiances, including the relationship with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In an interview with Al Jazeera last year, she said: “Our alliedship with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates is immoral. I believe that it is one of the most absurd alliedships; it doesn’t fit with any of our values.”

Meanwhile, her African American GOP rival Johnson is a first-time political candidate.

The 66-year-old is a businessman and entrepreneur with an IT background.

Issues:

Omar is campaigning for a “just immigration system”, providing healthcare coverage for all, guaranteed access to public education and economic justice for working families, according to her website.

On the foreign policy front, she is calling for an end to US military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

Her rival Johnson has campaigned for rebuilding the US economy hit by COVID-19, reforming the education system and creating opportunities for the poor and people of colour.

He has pledged to “bring sanity back to Congress”.

“Radical Left-wing policies have failed major American cities for far too long,” a Johnson campaign fundraising appeal reads.

“Ilhan Omar’s first term in Congress has been plagued by numerous scandals, campaign finance corruption, and a virulent hate for Israel.”

Outlook:

This is widely considered a non-competitive seat and Omar is expected to win by a wide margin in this heavily Democratic district.

In 2018, Omar won by 56 points over her Republican challenger.

The last time a Republican won in this district was in 1960.

Source : Al Jazeera and News agencies

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