Progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has gotten a lot of attention since she won her seat in 2018, but not all of her Democratic colleagues are thrilled about it.
One of Omar’s fellow representatives from Minnesota, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), said Thursday that she “doesn’t belong” in the Democratic party.
“She doesn’t belong in our party”
Peterson was approached on Thursday by an employee of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) while walking the streets outside of the Capitol building, the New York Post reported.
With his cellphone camera already recording, the NRCC employee asked the Minnesota congressman why he had previously defended his colleague after Omar was criticized for describing the 9/11 terrorist attacks as “some people did something.”
Peterson initially attempted to quicken his step and walk away but the NRCC employee caught up with him and continued to press for an answer.
“I don’t defend her. She doesn’t belong in our party,” the congressman said. Asked to clarify that remark, he simply repeated as he walked away, “She doesn’t belong in our party.”
Re-election fight strategy?
In April 2019, Peterson did defend Omar when he was asked on a local media outlet about the congresswoman’s “some people did something” comment about 9/11.
“I think she was trying to say that some people in her community feel like they’re being targeted,” Peterson suggested at that time.
Aside from Peterson being a relatively moderate Democrat from a bright-red rural district and Omar being a progressive from a deep-blue urban district, the Post noted that it wasn’t immediately clear why the long-serving congressman was now attempting to distance himself from his junior colleague.
Perhaps the most likely explanation is that the 16-term congressman has determined that creating distance between himself and Omar will benefit him politically as he is embroiled in a tough fight for re-election against his Republican challenger, the state’s former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach.
The party has changed
Whatever the reason for Peterson’s sudden refusal to defend Omar and her scandals, the choice was made and the statement was spoken.
As for Peterson’s assertion that Omar “doesn’t belong” in the Democratic Party? Based on what we’ve seen of the party’s lurch to the left recently, it’s more likely that centrist moderates like himself will be the ones that find themselves edged out.