By David H. Montgomery, MPR News
Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, normally a safe Democratic seat, is shaping up to be the most expensive election in the state this year.
First-term U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s national profile has helped inspire a flood of donations to both her challenger in August’s DFL primary, Antone Melton-Meaux, as well as the most prominent Republican running for the seat, Lacy Johnson.
Melton-Meaux raised an eye-popping $3.2 million from April to June, several times more than Omar’s $471,000. He has twice as much money in the bank as Omar for the final month before the August primary.
His support includes $487,000 bundled by two pro-Israel political organizations, NORPAC and the Pro-Israel America PAC. Omar has come under fire for comments critical of Israel that critics said were anti-Semitic.
The 5th District is overwhelmingly Democratic, and the winner of the August DFL primary is likely to win the November general election comfortably. But even the endorsed Republican candidate, Lacy Johnson, took in more than $2 million in the second quarter of the year.
Most of Johnson’s fundraising came from small donations, including a lot solicited through more than $700,000 in spending on direct mail.
Omar, meanwhile, also raised the bulk of her $471,000 in fundraising from small donations.
The $5.7 million in combined donations for Omar, Melton-Meaux and Johnson is nearly twice as much as the major candidates raised for an ostensibly more important race: Minnesota’s U.S. Senate seat. DFL Sen. Tina Smith took in $2.2 million in the second quarter, while Republican frontrunner Jason Lewis raised $833,000. Smith has $5.8 million in the bank to Lewis’s $927,000.