North Minneapolis businessman Lacy Johnson secured the Republican endorsement on Wednesday to challenge freshman Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Johnson, an entrepreneur and former IT professional who ran unsuccessfully for the Legislature in 2018, faces long odds in his bid for the state’s most staunchly Democratic district. Omar won the seat, which has been held by Democrats for decades, with 78% of the vote in 2018.
But Omar’s high profile has helped the relative newcomer to politics raise — and spend — more than $1 million so far. Much of the spending went to consultants and fundraising-related fees.
Johnson has acknowledged that unseating a DFL incumbent as a Republican in the Minneapolis-based Fifth Congressional District is like climbing a political “Mount Everest.” But he argues he can win over swing voters and disillusioned Democrats. He tweeted news of the endorsement late Wednesday, along with the message, “time for change.”
“We will change the lives of families in CD5 in a positive, measurable, and visible way,” Johnson tweeted.
Six Republicans have filled Federal Election Commission paperwork to run for the seat. Three were eligible for Wednesday night’s endorsement vote by the local GOP chapter.
Omar also faces several challengers for the DFL endorsement, which will be decided in May.
Candidates have until early June to decide whether to appear on the August primary ballot.