Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is being challenged by a longtime police officer and Iraq war veteran who is running as an Independent.
Omar, a freshman representative, is up for re-election in 2020.
Chris Kelley, the challenger, said he decided to run against Omar after hearing her dismiss the 9/11 terror attacks as “some people did something.”
Omar said earlier this year at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) meeting that the group “was founded after 9/11 because they recognized some people did something.”
“It was kind of a slap in the face to me as a first responder,” Kelley told KTSP. “9/11 was the Pearl Harbor of our time, my generation, and to kind of dismissively talk about it in that way was one of the motivating factors.”
Kelley said that he didn’t like the comment and wanted to react by doing something.
“September 11 was a terrible loss of life, not just for police officers and firefighters and other first responders, but 3,000 people and non-combatants died, and to be dismissive of that was an outrage. I could sit and complain or I could do something about it,” Kelley told Fox News.
“And I believe I can be a positive voice in standing up for people in our country, and for our first responders and the people every day on the frontlines.”
The 49-year-old was an intelligence analyst in the Army who deployed once during Operation Desert Storm and twice more during Operation Iraqi Freedom; he also worked as 20 years as a police officer in Minneapolis. He ran for a state Senate seat in 2016 but was unsuccessful.
Omar challenger motivated by 9/11 commentshttps://t.co/V3VrWJ8Ra8
— KSTP (@KSTP) July 26, 2019
Running as Independent
Kelley said that he feels there are some Democrats and Republicans who will support him.
“I think there are a lot of disaffected moderate Democrats out there and Republicans who are not happy with their parties and who may, if we do a good campaign, may take a look at us,” Kelley told KTSP.
He said he would not seek an endorsement from President Donald Trump but would not reject an endorsement if Trump ended up endorsing him.
Kelley told Fox that he thinks Omar is too invested in promoting herself versus doing her job and that he would not do the same. He said that immigration is a major issue and he wants a secure border but he also wants to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants under DACA.
He told KTSP that he opposes free college tuition at public colleges and “Medicare for All,” which Omar has supported.
He also said that Omar’s checkered past, including possible marriage and immigration fraud and confirmed tax fraud, are issues he will bring up during the campaign.
“She can set the record straight,” he said. “Nobody else can.”
Other Challenger Arrested
Daniella Stella previously announced she was running as a Republican in an effort to unseat Omar.
Stella said earlier this year said that she is pro-life, believing life begins at conception, and has expressed concern about illegal immigration and support for Trump’s wall along the southern border.
Stella, a 31-year-old teacher, was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting from Target earlier this year, reported the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. She is accused of stealing 279 items totaling a value of over $2,300.
Pro-Trump Republican aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar charged with felony theft https://t.co/Thd9OpmAUW
— The Guardian (@guardian) July 25, 2019
According to the criminal complaint, Stella told officers she remembered “arriving at Target to purchase items but nothing else due to her PTSD.” She was arrested again in April at a grocery store after a security officer said she stole items.
“I am not guilty of these crimes. In this country I am innocent until proven guilty and that is the law,” Stella told the Guardian. “If I was guilty of crimes, I would never run for public office, putting myself in the public eye under a microscope to be attacked by all political sides.”