The battle for the congressional seat held by Minneapolis Rep. Ilhan Omar has drawn more than $10 million in contributions as of the end of June, bringing renewed attention to the campaign cash flowing into one of the safest Democratic districts in the nation.
Omar and her top DFL challenger, attorney Antone Melton-Meaux, each have raised more than $3.6 million ahead of the Aug. 11 primary. Much of the money on both sides comes from out of the state, reflecting Omar’s national profile as one of the first Muslim women in Congress and an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.
The Republican-endorsed candidate, north Minneapolis businessman Lacy Johnson, has raised more than $3.1 million, also relying heavily on out-of-state contributions.
As the money pours in, Attorney General Keith Ellison and DFL Party Chair Ken Martin held a news conference Monday to criticize millions of dollars they say are being spent to unseat Omar by wealthy donors, some with ties to large corporations.
Martin cast contributions to unseat the DFL-endorsed incumbent as efforts to “silence a progressive champion rooted in xenophobia.” He did not provide examples of specific donors, but cited an analysis showing Melton-Meaux’s average contribution on the Democratic fundraising site ActBlue in the month of May was $650. The average donor to Omar gives $18.
“Minnesotans need to ask where is this mountain of money coming from and why are they doing it and what do they expect for it,” said Ellison, an Omar ally who represented the district until 2018.
Melton-Meaux released a statement Monday saying his campaign has received more than five times the amount of contributions Omar has from her own district. “Voters want to move past toxic politics of hate and division, which is rampant in Washington today,” he said.
The Omar campaign noted that she has received far more individual contributions from Minnesota donors.
Both candidates have raised significant sums outside the district.
Melton-Meaux says he raised more than $320,000, or about 10% of his fundraising total, from Minnesotans between April and June. More than 1,500 of those contributors live within the district, which includes Minneapolis, St. Louis Park and other western suburbs.
Omar’s fundraising reports have shown a similar trend in her first two years in Congress, with more than 90% of donors coming from out of state.
The vast majority of her contributions come from individuals giving small amounts.
She is part of a growing number of Democratic candidates who have vowed to refuse campaign money from corporate political action committees.