MINNEAPOLIS – The longest-serving legislator in Minnesota will battle again this August.
On Saturday, DFL delegates failed to endorse a candidate for the Minneapolis district represented by Rep. Phyllis Kahn since 1973.
After five ballots, one of Khan’s challengers – Ilhan Omar – finished with a strong first and 55 percent of the vote but failed to secure the 60 percent of delegates needed for the endorsement. The final vote showed Kahn with 33 percent of the vote.
"Ilhan is younger than me," said Kahn. "She is prettier than me. She appears nicer than me. She agrees with anything that anyone says to her. So, it was tough competition."
"For us to now have a primary that’s three way that is going to drain resources of people of our party, it is really sad," said Omar.
The other challenger, Mohamud Noor, was forced to drop out of the convention contest after the second ballot because he did not meet the 20 percent minimum of delegate support.
"Looking forward to the primary and I think the voters will have, this is their opportunity to decide who’s going to represent the district," said Noor.
Both Noor and Omar are striving to be the first Somali-American representative at the State Capitol. Noor challenged Kahn unsuccessfully in 2014 and has served on the Minneapolis School Board. Kahn is the longest serving current Minnesota Legislator.
Omar is an activist who has attracted a rock star following. All three candidates’ names will now appear on the ballot in the August primary.
Some observers think the August date is a plus for Kahn, since much of Omar's support comes from University of Minnesota students. The University will be on summer break in August. Fewer students would be available to vote. Omar said she was not worried.
"We signed 50 students up for turning in their ballots for early voting," said Omar.