Michigan and Minnesota Dems Have Trouble Endorsing Tlaib and Omar

Dem reps respond to questions with silence

Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar/ Getty Images
September 24, 2019

Democratic lawmakers in Michigan and Minnesota are not lining up to back their states' most visible progressive champions, Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.).

Videos released by conservative political trackers show that several Democrats continue to struggle with whether to openly support Tlaib and Omar, who both have a history of anti-Semitic remarks. Michigan representatives Elissa Slotkin (D.) and Haley Stevens (D.) refused to answer questions on whether they would endorse Tlaib, while Rep. Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) did the same on supporting Omar.

Slotkin previously supported a House resolution condemning anti-Semitism but stopped short of criticizing Tlaib or Omar. She refused to answer whether she supports Tlaib's reelection bid.

In May, a tracker from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC, asked Slotkin whether the House should censure Tlaib and Omar. Slotkin did not answer.

Slotkin, who is Jewish, has tried to turn Democrats' anti-Semitism controversies around on Republicans. She said in July that Republican outrage over anti-Semitism was a play to attract Jewish donors.

Stevens, who has received campaign money from Omar, was silent when asked about Tlaib.

Stevens has also avoided questions about Israel from reporters.

Tlaib touts a long list of endorsements on her campaign website, but most of them come from left-wing advocacy groups and unions. Her list of elected officials' endorsements includes only two members of Congress from Michigan: Reps. Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence.

Rep. Peterson of Minnesota said he had not thought about whether he would support Omar's reelection bid.

Some Democrats outside the pair's midwestern states have also been hesitant to support the controversial freshman congresswomen. Rep. Gil Cisneros (Calif.) refused to answer whether he would support censuring Tlaib and Omar back in May.

In February, Omar's anti-Semitic comments dogged Democrats after she said Jewish interest groups were buying off Congress, a common anti-Semitic trope. In May, Tlaib sparked outrage after she told a podcast host about the "calming feeling" she experiences when she thinks about the Holocaust.

Tlaib and Omar have also supported the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which led to them being barred from entering Israel in August, according to Israeli statute. Tlaib was given permission on humanitarian grounds to visit her grandmother, but she refused. The pair then proceeded to fundraise off being denied admission.