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D.C. Memo: Focus on the Fifth District

The Fifth District primary, Jason Lewis responds to MinnPost’s coverage and Andy Slavitt says something hopeful on COVID-19.

photo of lawn signs
Rep. Ilhan Omar’s most prominent challenger in the DFL primary is Antone Melton-Meaux, a newcomer to DFL politics.
MinnPost photo by Tom Nehil

Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week from Washington, the Fifth District primary, Jason Lewis responds to MinnPost’s coverage and Andy Slavitt says something hopeful on COVID-19.

The CD-5 primary

Rep. Ilhan Omar’s most prominent challenger in the DFL primary is Antone Melton-Meaux, a newcomer to DFL politics. Who’s funding Melton-Meaux? Where did he come from?

You can read more at MinnPost.

HuffPost also has a breakdown of the race, primarily looking at how right-leaning Israeli policy groups are targeting Omar and assisting Melton-Meaux. Here’s a bit of it:

Antone Melton-Meaux, 47, the Minneapolis attorney seeking to unseat Omar, 37, in the state’s Aug. 11 Democratic primaries, raised more than $1.5 million in May alone.

Much of that cash comes from political action committees opposed to more U.S. pressure on the Israeli government. Two such groups, Pro-Israel America and NORPAC, have bundled upwards of $450,000 for Melton-Meaux to date.

These Israel hawks’ investment in unseating Omar follows an expensive and ultimately unsuccessful intervention on behalf of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel. Given Engel’s massive deficit in the in-person vote, the New York Democrat has all-but-officially lost to Jamaal Bowman, a progressive challenger who is more critical of Israel, in his June 23 primary.

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Jason Lewis laughs

I reported last week that Jason Lewis, the endorsed Republican for Senate in MN, previously said Trayvon Martin was “a thug,” “a kid in trouble,” “not a saint,” “not a role model,” and “guilty.”

On Monday, Lewis was asked by a radio host what he thought about the discrepancy between his words about George Floyd, whose death he called tragic, and his words about Trayon Martin. He laughed.

Host: “You called the death of George Floyd tragic, because it was, but you said different things after another person died a long time ago, so how do you rectify that, Jason?”

Jason Lewis: “I don’t know, it’s kind of amazing.”

You can listen to the clip here at about the 42 minute mark. 

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Omar out of context

On July 7, during a speech in front of the Minnesota state capitol, Rep. Ilhan Omar called for “dismantling the whole system of oppression.” Right-wing media immediately jumped on the clip, suggesting that Omar was saying we need to dismantle the entire U.S. political system.

The Daily Caller ran this headline: “Ilhan Omar Calls For The ‘Dismantling’ Of US Economy, Political System.”

Fact-checking website Snopes rates that claim as false.

By the numbers

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Slavitt speaks

Andy Slavitt, the former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, talked to the Minnesota State House about COVID-19 this week. His assessment: Minnesota can have its economy back — if it stays ‘hyper-vigilant.’

“The good news is that with all the time I’ve spent with leaders around the country, with scientists, with epidemiologists, that with the right strategy and the right approach, we can get through this virus. We can live with this virus and we can indeed have our economy back,” Slavitt told the Minnesota House’s Select Committee on Minnesota’s Pandemic Response and Rebuilding.

In other news

Quote of the week

“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word,” Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, in a 5-4 decision affirming that nearly half of Oklahoma is within an Indian reservation.

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What I’m reading

Omar Rashad and Katherine Swartz for CalMatters: UC will sue Trump administration over new international student visa rules

Joining Harvard and MIT, the University of California is set to sue the Trump administration for a policy change that would force international students not taking in-person classes to leave the country.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: gschneider@minnpost.com. Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.