Blois Olson: The line on CD 5

After I wrote this morning about this morning’s lame DFL press conference yesterday afternoon I received Blois Olson’s “morning take” on the race as set set forth in his emailed Fluence Media tip sheet (you can sign up for it here). I thought readers might find it of interest. I am quoting it at length below with the kind permission of Blois:

CD5: The DFL primary in the Fifth District could be getting close. Signs that the Rep. Ilhan Omar’s campaign and her supporters are pulling out new stops to push back against a potential surge from challenger Antone Melton-Meux. On Saturday, Attorney General Keith Ellison appeared to sub-tweet a shot at Melton-Meaux.

Then on Monday, the DFL Chair Ken Martin and Ellison called a news conference to “speak about the millions of corporate and Republican dollars being spent to unseat Rep. Omar in the 5th Congressional District.” While watching the news conference, which garnered no questions from media in attendance, very few if any details were given about the claims in the news advisory. That doesn’t seem like the DFL’s style, the pushback lacked punch a traditional news conference on such a topic would pack.

Meanwhile, a breakdown of fundraising numbers provided by Melton-Meaux campaign showed that the campaign has outraised Omar in CD5 and in Minnesota donors. In Q2, Melton-Meaux raised $237K from within CD5 and Omar raised $8K. For Minnesota, Melton-Meaux raised $323K and Omar raised $11K. This combined with Omar’s “burn rate” of money suggests that at least in one category the challenger has momentum.

In an email, the Melton-Meaux campaign says that the “Republican” donor that Omar is claiming have given money to both the GOP and Democrats. Furthermore the “corporate money,” is the same PAC that has donated to Sen. Tina Smith and other Democrats. A request for the details of the claims from the DFL and the Omar campaign returned only examples of wealthy donors who have given to Democrats and Republicans.

Omar has received money as outlined by MinnPost from Hollywood actors, who could be framed as just as out of touch with CD5 as any of the Melton-Meaux donors. Furthermore, a quick search of Omar on Open Secrets says her top donors from corporations are from Apple and Microsoft. Isn’t that corporate money too?

Mail showing up in mailboxes shows both candidates taking shots at the other. The theme of Melton-Meaux campaign “Focused on the Fifth,” plays into the perception that Omar is more focused nationally, which could be a very effective attack – without being “mean.” Over the weekend, Omar did more local media than she’s traditionally done for months at a time touting many Sanders-like proposals she’s pushed in Congress. She clearly sees a need to be more visible locally. She still hasn’t sat down with anyone from other outlets in recent months.

Anecdotally, the CD5 DFL primary is becoming a common conversation across the district. The question, from suburbanites is “Could he beat her?”. That’s a question that many are trying to figure out, as the dynamics are not traditionally in favor of the challenger. After all, Omar won big in the 2018 primary against well-known opponents – that year there was also a gubernatorial primary. This year, there are a couple of urban primaries where more progressive DFLers are challenging Sens. Bobby Jo Champion and Jeff Hayden as well as Rep. Ray Dehn. Those races wouldn’t suggest a surge for Melton-Meaux, someone lesser known than Omar’s 2018 opponents.

That said, Melton-Meaux has been running TV for weeks and each campaign has been spending big on radio and in digital channels.

One sign that there may be some DFL voters that will support a DFLer but may not trust Omar was the DFL primary earlier this year in 60A where Rep. Sydney Jordan, a progressive supported by Education Minnesota defeated Omar’s pick, Sonia Neculescu (she finished 3rd). Omar pulled out all the stops in her endorsement of Neculescu, a self-proclaimed Democratic-Socialist. It wasn’t enough.

Party primaries can be very heated, this one seems to be passive-aggressive. That said it could be a revealing look into how one of the most Democratic districts in America feels about the left edge of the party right now and how the split breaks down for more centrist Democrats, none of whom will vote for Trump.

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