Press Releases

Don Samuels Issues Statement on Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Somaliland Controversy

MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 29, 2024—This evening, former Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels issued a statement on Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments on African regional affairs. Samuels is challenging Omar to a rematch in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District’s Democratic primary, following his narrow 2.1% loss to her in 2022.

“While some Republican leaders have used Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments as an opportunity to attack her for loyalty to a foreign country, I don’t feel comfortable judging her comments on that basis without the opportunity to review an independent translation and hear further from her. While I favor an approach to politics more focused on gaining understanding over scoring short-term political points, it’s notable that Rep. Omar has once again helped to facilitate a cycle of provocation and outrage with her comments, whatever it was she initially meant.

For the thousands of Fifth Congressional District residents whose families come from the Horn of Africa, these political issues are of great importance. The Gulf of Aden is of vital global significance because of its proximity to Africa and the Middle East. There is a large diaspora of African residents in our district for which the broad social, political, and cultural understanding of this situation differs greatly. As a result, many of our neighbors are concerned about the reported content of Rep. Omar’s remarks.

As your representative, I will listen to and respect all voices in the Fifth Congressional District when it comes to American foreign policy, and I will communicate clearly. Our district is home to numerous immigrant communities, and as an immigrant myself, I understand the role immigrants play in shaping America’s role on the world-stage. However, I believe leaders must always look objectively at international affairs and act in the best interest of the United States and all constituents without bias, favoritism, or political gain.”

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