Press Releases

Don Samuels Holds First Campaign Press Conference

Rep. Ilhan Omar shows weak standing against primary challenger Don Samuels

MINNEAPOLIS, June 14, 2022 — According to a polling memo released by Victoria Research, only 44% of likely Democratic primary voters in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District support Rep. Ilhan Omar’s bid for re-election. 

“This poll confirms what we’re hearing everyday as we talk to residents of the 5th District,” said Samuels. “People desire a different approach to leadership–one that sees our elected officials working together to bring about progress on the issues our state, our region, and our nation are facing, whether it’s making our neighborhoods safer, codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade, or safeguarding our democracy.”

According to the report, a sizable number of Democrats already have doubts about Omar’s work, noting that her popularity trails behind other local Democratic leaders by a margin of more than 25%, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Gov. Tim Walz. Omar’s unfavorability is one reason for Samuels’ ability to build a coalition of endorsements from Democratic Party leadership, trade unions and community leaders.

“The stakes are high, and we need elected leaders who prioritize sustainable progress over cynical slogans and short term political gains,” said Alicia Gibson, a community leader and recent Minneapolis City Council candidate. “By supporting candidates like Don, primary voters have a great opportunity to elect a community leader who will work across all levels of government to address issues like improving public safety, protecting a woman’s right to choose, and safeguarding our elections.”

Samuels’ position on abortion rights was recenly misrepresented by an Omar supporter in a Star Tribune op-ed and a recently leaked poll conducted by Omar’s re-election campaign. Samuels provided a response saying, “For my entire adult life, I have had an unwavering insistence on a woman’s right to choose and to have access to safe, affordable, and legal abortions.” His position on abortion access aligns with his support for other key Democratic policies such as voting rights, gun control, and climate change.

“I support Don Samuels because I know him to be a collaborator, a problem solver, and a leader. In addition, he  is passionate about so many of the issues that I fought for over the years—democracy, equality, fairness, and a woman’s right to choose. Don is also not afraid to take a position and work with others to make change happen,” said former Minnesota Secretary of State Joan Growe.

Joining Samuels today at his press conference were local labor leaders Adam Duininck of the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters and Jason George of International Union of Operating Engineers. George said “Local 49 backs candidates who support critical investments in our nation’s infrastructure. Don Samuels knows that President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill will make our nation better connected and more resilient, as well as put millions of workers into living-wage jobs with good benefits. Rep. Omar’s vote against the president’s infrastructure bill has been a notable disappointment to our members.”

Other notable Democratic supporters include Todd Otis, Mike Erlandson, Mike Hatch, Ruth Stanoch, and Brian Melendez, representing five of six living former state DFL Party chairs. Support from community leaders include former Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo; community member and public safety advocate Loretta Arradondo; community gun violence activists Lisa Clemons and Kay G Wilson; and Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council.

Endorsing Samuels, Loretta Arradondo stated “The reason I support Don is that he’s committed to improving our community.  Don was elected to the Minneapolis city council because of his work to promote peace in the community as a private citizen.  As the chair of the Public Safety Committee, he helped bring crime down to record lows.  We need a leader who is grounded in reality and who will work constructively with local and state leaders to address our community’s challenges.  I know Don Samuels will be that leader because he has shown he is that leader in every position that he has held.”

“Don Samuels’ work in Minneapolis exemplifies a deep commitment to both his community and his progressive, pragmatic Democratic values. That’s the type of leadership we need in Washington.” said Otis. 

Samuels has a personal narrative that makes him a compelling alternative for Democrats seeking a different style of leadership in Washington, D.C. A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Samuels was born the third of 10 children to a Pentacostal pastor and seamstress. In 1970, Samuels immigrated to the United States to pursue an education at New York’s Pratt Institute and later began a career designing toys for the industry’s top companies. 

After moving to Minnesota, Samuels met and married his wife, Sondra Hollinger-Samuels, and together they moved to the Jordan neighborhood in North Minneapolis, where they continued a lifelong commitment to always live in the most challenged part of their city. 

After a bullet went through their soon to be born daughter’s bedroom window, the Samuelses began organizing their neighbors. Together, they began advocating for policy changes and additional resources to improve community safety. Eventually, Samuels ran for office himself, serving three terms on the Minneapolis City Council and one on the Minneapolis Public School Board. He continues to be an advocate for public safety, including suing the city of Minneapolis to meet its charter-required number of police officers. The case was recently argued before the Minnesota Supreme Court. 

PO Box 50024 Minneapolis, MN 55405

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