A veteran Minneapolis cop and decorated US Army vet will run as an independent to challenge Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar — and said Friday that her comments about 9/11 prompted his decision.
“It was very dismissive and disrespectful,” Chris Kelley told Fox News.
“September 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,” he added.
Omar’s comment that on 9/11, “some people did something” last March sparked widespread outrage and condemnation from President Trump and lawmakers from both parties.
Kelley, 49, also charged that the freshman firebrand was more concerned about her celebrity status than her district.
“As former military, I am here to serve and not further my status. I want to do a good job for the people I represent and I don’t have a personal agenda,” Kelley told Fox.
“I’m passionate about service and I just want to be able to continue that.”
But he added that he did not want his campaign to go negative by attacking Omar.
“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,” said Kelley, who is seeking the endorsement of the Independence-Alliance Party of Minnesota.
“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.”
Kelley worked the streets of Minnesota for 20 years, and was deployed once during Operation Desert Storm and twice during Operation Iraqi Freedom during his years in the Army and Army Reserve.
Enlarge ImageRep. Ilhan Omar
Rep. Ilhan OmarGetty Images
The Hibbing native also holds a master’s degree in criminal justice leadership from Concordia University in St. Paul.
He could face an uphill effort in Minnesota’s heavily Democratic 5th Congressional District.
In the 2018 election, Omar defeated Republican Jennifer Zielinski with 78.2 percent of the vote.
Republican aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar charged with felony
Omar also defeated five other candidates in the Democratic primary with 48.2 percent of the vote while her closest competitor got 30.4 percent, according to Ballotpedia.
Kelley advocates immigration reform, and believes Congress has done a bad job on the humanitarian crisis on the border by not by adequately funding Border Patrol and ICE agents, who he said have been unfairly blamed for the conditions at the border by Omar and others.
“There’s not a cop or anybody in law enforcement who wants to see anybody suffer. We do need secure borders. You don’t have a country without a border, and allowing anybody to walk in is ridiculous,” he told the Duluth News Tribune.
Kelley added that children arriving in the country under circumstances beyond their control should have a path to citizenship — a position that puts him at odds with the president’s zero tolerance policy on illegal immigration.
“We have a lot of good people coming in that will help the country,” he said.