Ilhan Omar Has a New Challenger for Her Seat: An Army Vet and a Police Officer Who Served in Iraq


Chris Kelley is no stranger to politics.

He unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for Senate in 2016, after all.

However, after the Iraq War veteran heard far-left Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota describe the 9/11 attacks as a case where “some people did something,” he knew who his next target would be.

“Sept. 11 was a terrible loss of life, not just for police officers and firefighters and other first responders, but 3,000 people and non-combatants died, and to be dismissive of that was an outrage,” Kelley told Fox News in a recent interview.

“I could sit and complain or I could do something about it.”

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And do something about it he did.

Kelley, a police officer who’s logged over 36,000 hours on the streets in Minneapolis — not to mention 27 years in the Army and the Army Reserves — decided to start campaigning as an independent for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the 2020 election.

“I believe I can be a positive voice in standing up for people in our country, and for our first responders and the people every day on the frontlines,” Kelley said.

Do you think Ilhan Omar can be defeated in 2020?

While Kelley has spent his time patrolling the streets of Omar’s district, he thinks the freshman congresswoman and member of “the squad” — the group of four freshman Democrat representatives who have been conspicuously more progressive than the rest of their party — has spent too much time cultivating her “celebrity.”

“As former military, I am here to serve and not further my status,” he told Fox.

“I want to do a good job for the people I represent and I don’t have a personal agenda,” the 49-year-old continued.

“I’m passionate about service and I just want to be able to continue that.”

And serve he has. Kelley has deployed three times, once during Operation Desert Storm and twice during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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He also has a master’s degree from Concordia University in criminal justice leadership — not surprising, considering he considers the border a major concern.

“Immigration is a big issue right now. I believe in having a secure border; if you don’t have a country you don’t have a border and our border agents are doing a great job, but they are being overwhelmed and Congress isn’t giving them the tools they need,” Kelley said.

“But I would also like to see a pathway to citizenship for those under DACA; they couldn’t help they were brought here and need a shot to be able to stay here.”

As a father, Kelley also says that spending is a big issue for him.

“A big concern I have is our national debt, and I would like to work on bringing this down. It should be a priority,” Kelley said. “I have a 5-year-old and this debt will be in our children’s lap.”

However, Kelley doesn’t plan on going after Omar personally, saying that he wants to run “positive, fact-based campaign.”

“I won’t be bringing in controversy and scandal. I will be bringing firsthand knowledge of the things that I know are going on in the community as an officer. I see a lot every day — the homelessness, the opioid crisis; I want to bring these things to the forefront and put some ideas on the table on how to deal with them,” Kelley said.

“I want to do anything I can to make people’s lives better; I just want to sit and listen to people and make some positive change.”

Will that be enough to unseat Omar?

It’ll be a difficult process; the freshman representative beat Republican Jennifer Zielinski in the 2018 election by a margin of 78 percent to 22 percent.

Historically, Minnesota’s 5th is also one of those districts House Speaker Nancy Pelosi likes to remark that a glass of water with a D next to its name could easily win.

(When you consider the former occupant of the district was Keith Ellison and that the glass of water didn’t have associations with Louis Farrakhan connected to it, you may understand the difficulty of flipping the seat.)

However, if the members of “the squad” come from glass-of-water districts, perhaps their combative image — combined with the fact they don’t seem as concerned with the issues in their district as they are with their profile — could end up putting them in embarrassingly close races.

Keep in mind that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — the John Lennon of “the squad” if you want to use that tortured Beatles metaphor for them — already has a Republican set to challenge her in a district that’s a bit more liberal than Rep. Omar’s.

Plus, while Kelley did run as a Republican for the senatorial nomination once upon a time, he won’t have an R by his name in a district where that’ll be the kiss of death.

Oh yeah, and he’s also not a blatant anti-Semite.

So, who knows?

The odds are against it, but perhaps “the squad” could be one member less, all courtesy of a veteran of both the armed forces and the Minneapolis police force.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture