There has been a lot of comment on how close the Fifth District race was, attributing it to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar's support of the "defund the police" movement. In fact, that movement may have accomplished what it was intended to do — reform policing. Up to that close-call referendum, Mayor Jacob Frey and others ignored the need to change Minneapolis policing. The referendum put them on notice that it could not be ignored. The subsequent report on racial bias in policing put numbers to what was obvious to everyone in the Twin Cities. Finally, some action is being taken. Will it be enough? Only time will tell. But without Omar and her support nothing would have been done. It would be business as usual, and more George Floyd incidents would have followed.
So, thank you, Rep. Omar. Your courage made a difference. Sometimes you can lose a referendum and still make your point.
Robert Veitch, Richfield
Congratulations to Omar on her primary win. I have always felt the position of the congressional representative is a special honor that holds significant importance. It is the closest we in the Minneapolis area get to having a "neighborhood" voice in the federal government. To my way of thinking the seat bestows special obligations on the holder. Along with providing quick constituent service, a federal representative needs to effectively work with local officials in bringing help from the federal government to local folks.
While there are lots of ways to dissect and analyze the close primary vote, I sincerely hope Omar takes a moment to quietly reflect on the message sent with the election results. The metro area is hurting on a number of fronts, not the least from unacceptably high crime rates. Minneapolis voters have made it clear they want a fully staffed, accountable police department, a "strong" mayoral structure and Frey to hold that seat. Omar can continue to throw barbs at our mayor, as outlined in the recent Star Tribune article "Omar's win far tighter than 2020" (front page, Aug. 11), or she can work constructively with our elected officials. The community doesn't expect uniform ideas from our various elected officials, but we do expect continued respectful dialogue and hard work. That quiet work might not generate headlines, but it will improve the quality of life for the community. Her community, our community.
Paul Kaminski, Minneapolis
The narrow margin of Omar's win in the deep-blue Fifth District further shows the need to move away from partisan primaries. No matter who you supported, it's hard to argue that the November election shouldn't have been between Samuels, who garnered 55,217 votes, and Omar, with 57,683. Instead, Omar will face a Republican who garnered 4,765 votes. This effectively disenfranchises both Samuels voters, as well as independents and Republicans who won't be able to choose a viable candidate. We should all also stand up against a system where the victor is decided in a low-turnout August primary rather than the actual regular election. If you agree, please call your state legislators and demand nonpartisan primaries in Minnesota. Would Omar have won under this system? Maybe, but that's not the point. We all deserve a meaningful choice in November.
Tyler Balbuena, Minneapolis
Many people, from Samuels to Frey to the Star Tribune Editorial Board, have painted a picture about the Fifth District primary. Essentially, they all claim that Omar is on thin ice based on the fact that she nearly lost to a primary challenger despite incumbency and party support. I understand the sentiment, but I'm skeptical. Omar spent considerably less money than Samuels, barely campaigned and generally seemed indifferent about the challenge. Yet even with a huge influx of cash, the endorsements of prominent Democrats, including Frey, and all of the momentum he could muster, Samuels still couldn't get it done. Do I think Omar underestimated him? I do. But most people I know in the district stayed home this year because there was no contentious Democratic primary on the state or federal level. If he runs again and Omar actually tries to get her supporters to the polls in larger numbers, my money's on the incumbent.
To me, the message we get from this primary is: Even in a perfect storm of low turnout, big-money advantage and notable endorsements, a moderate challenger still can't win the Fifth. Thinking that will change is, in my opinion, a bit naive.
Max Ritter, St. Paul
In the articles and letters that the Star Tribune has seen fit to publish over the past few days since the primary results for the Fifth District, between the questions about what Omar needs to do to avoid such a close scare in the future and a letter titled not so subtly, "We voters aren't too happy," one thing seems to have been sorely missed.
Omar won. She beat Samuels. More voters from the Fifth District voted for her than him. We chose her. Why does the Star Tribune not see fit to ask why these well-funded primary opponents keep failing to unseat Omar, why public officials like Frey consistently fail to respect her or her voters, or why media influencers keep trying to dampen and divert discussion away from progressive victories?
Paul Villerius, Minneapolis
FBI SEARCH OF MAR-A-LAGO
Holes in the pro-Trump argument
A recent letter writer is correct when he writes, "Surely, you must know that a U.S. president can declassify any classified document at will at any time." However he neglects to state that the same does not hold true for a former president. Perhaps there is a slight chance that President Donald Trump followed all of the procedures for declassifying these documents prior to leaving office, including memorializing his order for bureaucratic and historic purposes and directing his staff to physically modify the classification markings on the documents themselves. However, it is a stretch to believe the FBI wouldn't have been aware of this in the unlikely event proper procedures were indeed followed. More likely the rumored "mole" within Mar-a-Lago informed the FBI that there were classified documents at the resort, and where they could find them upon obtaining a legal search warrant. I don't know what the legal ramifications might be for a former president holding on to classified documents, but I think we can be fairly certain the FBI would not have obtained a warrant without probable cause.
Philip M. Ahern, Shorewood
The Associated Press article published online in the Star Tribune, "Trump calls for 'immediate' release of Mar-a-Lago warrant" presented a twisted view.
My guess is that Trump's "demand" to release the warrant was based on a belief that his supporters didn't understand that he had the documents and could have released them as early as his first public complaint. His demand that they be released was bizarre. The bizarreness of Trump's demand is more newsworthy than his demand.
Carol A. Overland, Red Wing, Minn.
The FBI raids Mar-a-Lago. Trump-world erupts, claiming that the raid confirms once and for all that the wicked left is out to get him. More rational minds, including the Star Tribune Editorial Board and several recent letter writers, counsel us to stay calm, trust our law-based process and see where it leads. But here's the problem: The process is of absolutely no consequence to those who are in Trump's thrall. If the investigation leads to nothing chargeable, it confirms the leftist conspiracy. If the investigation produces clear proof of lawbreaking, it's because the deep state made it all up. No amount of even irrefutable evidence will convince the Trumpists that he is at fault. That's the power of the cult that Trump has created, even among members of Congress. As senior adviser Kellyanne Conway noted early in Trump's presidency, they operate on "alternate facts." That's what's really scary.
Doug Norris, Brooklyn Park