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Small donors rally to Ilhan Omar after Trump’s attacks

Omar is one of the top Democratic earners this quarter.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) rallies with fellow Democrats before voting on the For the People Act on March 8, 2019, in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women in Congress, has drawn a lot of controversy in her first few months in office — moments that Democratic donors seem to want to support her through.

According to Omar’s Federal Election Commission report filed Monday, donors have rushed to show their support for the Minnesota Democrat by helping her raise more than $830,000 last quarter.

It’s been a trying quarter for her. In February, she was accused of anti-Semitism after she criticized pro-Israel lobbying in the United States. After pushback from both Republicans and Democrats, the House of Representatives voted on a blanket resolution that broadly condemned anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination, seen as a rebuke to the first-term Congress member.

More recently, Omar was under attack for saying “some people did something” when commenting that all Muslims should not be held responsible for the acts of extremists during 9/11. In response, President Donald Trump tweeted a provocative video that stitched together clips of Omar and the falling Twin Towers. Since then, Omar said she has received an influx of anti-Muslim insults and death threats. Fellow Democrats have stood up for her, condemning Trump for inciting violence against Omar.

Donors have also stood up for Omar by donating to her campaign. More than half of the money she’s raised comes from donors who contributed less than $200. Despite only having received a total of $10,000 from PACs, her haul from individual donors puts her among the top Democratic earners this quarter. In comparison, Democratic leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer raised about $650,000 and $600,000, respectively.

And while fellow first-term progressive lawmakers have also received considerable donations, they lag behind Omar. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) raised about $720,000, while Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) only raised about $300,000.

Omar’s FEC report speaks to her strong position for 2020 — at least financially

So far, Omar’s campaign has only spent about $241,000, leaving her with more than $600,000 in cash at her disposal. That sets her up well for her first reelection campaign in 2020, particularly if Democratic voters remain as engaged as they were in the first few years of the Trump administration.

More than 70 percent of Omar’s donations — $631,000 — were raised through ActBlue, a platform that lets individuals donate to Democrats online, according to Politico. The platform has significantly helped the party’s fundraising efforts, and Omar’s numbers show how effective digitalizing donations can be.

Omar also received donations from Democratic colleagues House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and Ocasio-Cortez, two of her most vocal advocates. Clyburn, who contributed $1,000, defended Omar during the anti-Semitism controversy, commenting on how her experience as a refugee has shaped her perspective. Ocasio-Cortez, who donated $2,000, has made her support for her fellow progressive candidate crystal-clear as well.

This is the kind of support Omar will probably need to keep her seat. And although Trump is trying to make Omar a household name by invoking Islamophobia, his rapidly dropping approval rates in Minnesota suggest his tactics are no longer effective.

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