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Omar, Melton-Meaux vie for undecided voters

Incumbent 5th District congresswoman Ilhan Omar and well-funded primary election challenger Antone Melton-Meaux visit the same farmers market on campaign trail.

MINNEAPOLIS — The vendors and customers who gathered at Richfield's Memorial Park Saturday morning got to see the both of the top two candidates running for the Democratic nomination in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District.

Incumbent Rep. Ilhan Omar and her top rival, Minneapolis mediation attorney Antone Melton-Meaux, both paid visits to the Richfield Farmers Market, but at different times, to rub elbows with voters.

Both put in a good word for what the market represents -- local small business owners looking to eke out a living during the unprecedented crisis brought by COVID-19.

"We know that small businesses are struggling, so to see the community come out and support our small businesses means a great deal to us," Rep. Omar told reporters who approached her at the market.

Melton-Meaux struck a similar tone.

"These are people that have started small businesses. And, as we know, small businesses are the engine of our economy," Melton-Meaux remarked.

"They're also the engine of our creativity and innovation."

RELATED: Omar, challenger Melton-Meaux trade barbs

Both candidates said they remain hopeful for a victory Tuesday night, with the caveat that we may not get full results Tuesday because of a court order allowing mail-in absentee ballots to be counted until Thursday the 13th, as long as they were postmarked on or before Tuesday the 11th.

"I couldn't be more excited about where we are. We are in a position to win," Melton-Meaux. "But most importantly we're in a position to serve the community in a way that I think is meaningful."

Melton-Meaux has grabbed national headlines by taking on a fellow Democrat and raising three times as much money that the incumbent Omar. That campaign cash allowed him to saturate local TV airwaves with ads, and blitz potential voters mailboxes with targeted campaign literature.

Omar, who made history as the first Somali refugee elected to the Minnesota Legislature and US Congress, has been able to counter part of the Melton-Meux advertising barrage. She won the DFL Party's endorsement and has a cadre of loyal progressive Democratic supporters.

"We're really excited about Tuesday. We're going to continue to have conversations, get people out to the polls," Omar told KARE Saturday.

"We're asking people to take their ballots, if they have them with them, to drop it off or come out and vote in person on Tuesday."

RELATED: MN Secretary of State: Be patient for 2020 primary election results

Omar has touted her work on school meals programs, helping Liberian refugees remain in this country and contributing to the police reform bill that passed the House but is awaiting action by the Senate.

She said as a Muslim and a refugee she has been proud to battle with President Trump over his Muslim ban because of how if affects immigrant families.

Her critics have charged that her celebrity status as a member of the freshman "Squad" on Capitol Hill distracted her from holding more meetings with people inside her district. Pro-Israel political groups have also paid for ads targeting Omar, because of her statements in the past supporting Palestinians and criticizing the influence of the pro-Israel lobby on US politics.

The last time 5th District voters sent a Republican to Washington was in the 1960 election, so the winner of the DFL primary is highly likely to win the general election in November. 

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