Tlaib, Omar face insurgent primary challengers: Can ‘Squad’ survive?

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Two of the four members of ‘The Squad’ are facing serious Democratic primary challengers in the coming weeks

Two of the four members of the group known as “The Squad” – an influential group of progressive first-term minority congresswomen – are facing serious Democratic primary challengers in the coming weeks.

In Minnesota’s heavily Democratic 5th Congressional District – which covers much of the city of Minneapolis and was ground zero for the nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd – freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar is facing multiple challengers on the Aug. 11 primary vote, including one challenger who has dramatically outraised her.

And in Michigan’s overwhelmingly Democratic 13th Congressional District, which includes parts of Detroit and the inner suburbs of Wayne County, the Aug. 4 primary is a rematch from two years ago.

First-term Rep. Rashida Tlaib is trying to fend off Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones. Jones, who is Black, now enjoys the support of the other four candidates from the 2018 election.

The district was held for more than half a century by John Conyers Jr., a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus who died last year. When Conyers stepped down in 2018 amid accusations of sexual harassment, Jones briefly held the seat after narrowly edging Tlaib in a special election to fill the rest of Conyers’ term.

But Tlaib won a separate election for the new two-year term, starting in 2019. That election included six candidates. Jones, who is Black, now enjoys the support of the other four candidates from the 2018 election. Tlaib is Palestinian-American — and she made history alongside Omar in 2018 as the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.

Race is a factor in the 2020 primary rematch.

“Making the argument to Detroiters that you should have another African American representative in Congress has historically been somewhat of a powerful message, and Jones is a known quantity as city council president,” noted Susan Demas, a Michigan based political analyst and editor-in-chief of the Michigan Advance.

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