MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 1, 2022 — MicroGrants CEO and former Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels won a key endorsement today from the Star Tribune, adding to an already impressive list of local organizations and community leaders who have backed his campaign to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District’s August 9th Democratic primary.
Calling Samuels the “strongest she has faced to date,” the Star Tribune’s Editorial Board wrote that “Samuels is a candidate of rare caliber, almost ideally suited to represent the mix of ethnicities and issues confronting the district. Firmly rooted in and committed to his North Side Minneapolis community, he has spent a lifetime walking his talk, seeking collaboration and compromise to produce results that have had an impact far beyond his area.”
The endorsement calls attention to Samuels’ deep ties to the community. Having lived in Minneapolis’ North Side for 25 years, Samuels has been an active organizer—holding vigils after shootings and circulating memorial books for the victims of gun violence. He also founded the PEACE Initiative (now the Northside Achievement Zone) and is the CEO of MicroGrants—both organizations acting as beneficiaries to low-income communities.
“I am grateful and honored by the Star Tribune’s endorsement today. Having the endorsement of a newspaper with the history and reputation of the Star Tribune is a great addition to our campaign,” said Samuels. “Together, I am confident that we can win this race and bring our shared vision of safety and prosperity to the Fifth District.”
The endorsement from the Star Tribune adds to Samuels’ media exposure, which has steadily increased over the past month. Samuels recently debuted two TV ads airing in local markets; and he penned an Op-Ed on July 22 for the Star Tribune making a strong case for why Democratic voters in the Fifth District should vote for him on August 9th.
Citing Omar’s “all-or-nothing style in Congress and seemingly endless string of controversies,” Samuels positions himself as a more pragmatic candidate—one able to work with other members of Congress to negotiate and pass legislation. President Joe Biden’s signature infrastructure bill is but one example of Omar’s unwillingness to compromise to get bills through the House that Samuels uses to make his case to voters.
Samuels is running against incumbent Omar as an alternative for Democrats who are tired of the gridlock in Washington caused by the fringes of both parties. Where Omar often finds herself at odds with Democratic party leadership, Samuels holds himself up as a collaborative leader that will work with the president and our Minnesota delegation such as Representative Dean Phillips to pass his Pathways to Policing bill and offer real solutions to the challenges facing the Fifth District.
Samuels’ base of support in the Fifth District has grown considerably over recent months to include state and local leaders such as former Minnesota Secretary of State Joan Growe, former State DFL Chairs Brian Melendez, Mike Erlandson, Mike Hatch, Ruth Stanoch, and Todd Otis; and former Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo.
Samuels also boasts endorsements from four major labor unions—The North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, the Minneapolis Building Trades, and the United Steelworkers.
“President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is providing the largest investment in our nation’s infrastructure in over a century,” said Adam Duininck in the Carpenters’ endorsement, referencing the infrastructure bill that Omar opposed in the House. “We support Don Samuels because we know that Don will be an ally to President Biden in Washington, supporting his agenda by passing legislation that makes a meaningful difference for our members, their families, and working people across Minnesota.”
Samuels won the endorsement of another major local newspaper on Monday when the Mill City Times—a not-for-profit news source for Minneapolis’ central riverfront neighborhoods—offered its readers a compelling case to support his primary challenge.
Echoing the concerns voiced by the labor endorsements, David Tinjum writes “with Democrats controlling the House by a narrow margin, and the Senate by an even more narrow margin, we find it distressing that Ilhan Omar votes so often with her most extreme counterparts in the Republican party and against President Biden’s agenda.”
A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Samuels was born the third of 10 children to a Pentecostal pastor and seamstress. In 1970, he immigrated to the United States to pursue an education at New York’s Pratt Institute and later became a toy designer for some of the industry’s top companies.
After moving to Minnesota, Samuels met and married his wife 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 Schools Board.
For more information and updates, follow Don Samuels online or on social media by visiting www.DonSamuels.com; Don Samuels for Congress on Facebook; @DonSamuelsMN on Instagram; and @DonSamuelsMN on Twitter.