Ms. Kendra Lee is joining Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's reelection team as the campaign manager. She was the training manager in the U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia for Sen. Jon Ossoff that gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. Photo: Courtesy of Ilhan Omar Campaign
Ms. Kendra Lee is joining Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's reelection team as the campaign manager. She was the training manager in the U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia for Sen. Jon Ossoff that gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. Photo: Courtesy of Ilhan Omar Campaign

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has hired a key member of the 2021 Jon Ossoff U.S. Senate runoff campaign in Georgia that gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate to be her campaign manager, as she readies for a rematch against former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels.

Mr. Samuels announced in November that he will run against her again in the Democratic primary.

Ms. Kendra Lee, a lawyer by training, was Senator Ossoff’s training manager in the crucial 2021 Senate runoff. She said in a statement to Mshale that she was going to work for the Minneapolis congresswoman because “I have dedicated my professional career to ensuring that underrepresented and underserved communities have a seat at the table and Rep. Omar has fought for those communities since being elected to public office in 2016.”

Ms. Lee is a seasoned Democratic operative and her hiring suggests Rep. Omar is very much aware of the threat of another close race, as was the case in her 2022 reelection bid when she defeated Mr. Samuels by just two percentage points in the Democratic primary.

A former elections commissioner at Shelby County – Tennessee’s largest county – Ms. Lee has worked on a number of campaigns, including Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign where she was a community organizer. She was the statewide voter protection director for the Tennessee Democratic Party, a necessary job in a state known as “The Worst State in the Country for Voting Rights.”

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s former organizing director Mr. Brayden Sorenson is also coming on board as the campaign’s organizing director. As campaign manager for current Saint Paul City Council president Mitra Jalali, Mr. Sorenson coordinated the campaigns of the other six women that ultimately became the history making all-female Saint Paul City Council last month.

“All of the issues and rights my constituents and I care about most are under attack, and I will not back down in protecting them,” said Rep. Omar. “I am an organizer who believes that organized people will always beat organized money, and I am excited to announce a talented and experienced team that will lead our organizing efforts this year.”

Ms. Lee said she expects outside Republican money to pour into the district to unseat Rep. Omar as in previous races, but stressed the congresswoman’s grassroots organizing ethos should see her prevail.

“Our campaign is energized and excited to engage with our voters on the issues they care about most,” she said.

Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks to canvassers as they get ready to knock on doors at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus during a doorknocking exercise her campaign organized on Sept. 18, 2022. Mshale Staff Photo by Panashe Matemba-Mutasa

In a release Thursday announcing the staffing of her reelection campaign team, Rep. Omar, who is the only African-born member in Congress, touted her legislative achievements including the over 60 bills passed in the House and over 1,200 cosponsored bills; $4 billion in federal grant money for Minnesotans; almost 100 town halls and roundtables.

“I am honored to serve Minnesota’s Fifth District in Congress and I am excited for the opportunity to earn my constituents’ vote for a fourth term,” said Rep. Omar. “Since being elected to Congress, I am proud of the work I have done to defend and advocate for women’s rights, address the climate crisis, center human rights in our foreign policy, and protect our democracy and voting rights. My team has helped thousands of constituents restore Social Security benefits, expedite passports, reunite families, restore health insurance, and so much more.

Others rounding up the campaign leadership team are;

Makenzie Richardson as finance director; Noted for leading the nation’s highest fundraising for a Senate race.

Andrew Virden as political director; He was the 2020 Census director of operations for the State of Minnesota.

Briana Rose Lee as operations director: Most recently served as chair of the Minneapolis DFL (Democratic Party).

About Tom Gitaa Gitaa, Editor-in-Chief

Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.

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