I appreciate recent comments from Habon Abdulle (“Big money is behind challenges to Omar,” July 13) and Owen Brown (Readers Write, July 14), respectively supporting Rep. Ilhan Omar and her best-funded opponent. In a crimped campaign environment, such perspectives add more value than ever.

As one of the “unfamiliar” men Abdulle mentioned as challenging Rep. Omar, let me introduce myself. My name is Daniel McCarthy.

How could anyone run against Omar? As much as I respect her, I have divergent views to express. So count me in. If she can forgive the man who threatened her life, I hope to gain forgiveness from whomever may be offended by my joining the race.

I look at this campaign as a chance to engage with fellow candidates and the people we seek to serve. As the only contender who happens be white, at a racially sensitive time, let me avoid negativity. There’s a lot to admire in the so-called squad. In 2018, as a resident of the Boston area, I voted for squad member Ayanna Pressley in her congressional primary. My ballot helped unseat one of those old white men.

People should be able to identify however they choose. Identity is a very personal matter. It matters a lot. But when it comes to politics, the U.S. has traditionally organized around ideas rather than identities: how we face problems — not which demographic takes power. I suppose it’s easy for a Caucasian to say so, but especially in tough times like these shouldn’t we focus on what gets done to alleviate hardship, as opposed to whose idea it was?

While unfamiliar to many, I was active in public affairs long before running for Congress in Minnesota’s old Sixth District in 1994 — which then included Fridley and Columbia Heights, now in the Fifth. But immigration service lured me away from Minnesota in 1997. That took me to Denver; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Ghana (West Africa) and beyond. But I digress.

And typically so. My diagnosis of having an attention deficit and hyperactivity (ADHD) “disorder” helps explain such roaming. Yet it has enriched the breadth of my perspective.

There is no urban area that has drawn me in longer than the Twin Cities. So in retirement and at a time of crisis, why not come home to engage in the public-spirited act of running for office? When it looked like the pandemic coast was clear, I drove cross-country to get here.

Soon after my arrival, another tragedy broke out. It was intense to attend the very first rally after George Floyd’s appalling death, and the one at our State Capitol the following Sunday. When unable to keep good social distancing and still hear speeches, even in open space below the Capitol, I left demonstrating to others.

Let me respond to points raised by prior correspondents. I agree that it’s time for America to implement a single-payer Medicare for All. Now more than ever. Likewise, I’m fine with the Green New Deal as an aspirational plan to cope with climate change. But let’s be careful in implementation and do budgetary fixes to fund it (big cuts to Pentagon spending and an inequity-reversing wealth tax).

As for police reform, the last thing feds should do to help local law enforcement is keep supplying them with surplus military gear. I think Rep. Omar is right on that.

But having spent decades in federal service, I’m skeptical of her bill to create a new agency to investigate local police violence. We already have a Department of Justice (badly led though it may be now). Government expertise is already there. Despite sharing Rep. Omar’s love for bold new ideas, I don’t always support the grandest approach.

Faced with mostly peaceful but partly unhinged protests, how should cops calibrate forcefulness? Criminalizing counter-violence poses its own problems. What about a crowd of patriotic protesters infiltrated by arsonists out to wreck community businesses? Police deserve some leeway in such situations.

There may not be much room for compromise now in our combative Congress. Still, innovative Minnesota — in its core metro area — can take the lead in a post-Trump/Joe Biden era by embracing less polarized leadership. That might take more than one election cycle. But we have to start somewhere.


Daniel McCarthy, of Minneapolis, is a candidate for the DFL nomination in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District.