Rep. Ilhan Omar on Tuesday soundly defeated a well-funded primary challenger, the latest in a series of victories for liberals looking to secure their foothold in Congress and move the Democratic Party further left.

The Minnesota Democrat was leading Anton Melton-Meaux 57 percent to 39 percent with 96 percent of precincts reported when the race was called, putting to bed weeks of speculation that her career on Capitol Hill could be cut short by an opponent who argued Omar was more interested in fame than representing her district.

Residents of the Minneapolis-area district, however, chose the Somali refugee and first Muslim woman in Congress over Melton-Meaux, who raised a staggering $3.2 million last quarter from Omar critics around the nation. The race had become one of the most expensive House primaries this year, with each candidate bringing in north of $4 million.

2020 will test if the House's "Squad" of four progressive Democratic representatives can stay together as they face reelection in November. (The Washington Post)

The matchup in the Gopher State’s 5th District represented the second time this summer that a member of the “Squad” of high-profile liberal freshmen has had to ward off a primary challenge. In Michigan, Rep. Rashida Tlaib — who faced blowback for referring to Trump with an expletive on the first day of the new Congress in 2019 — soundly defeated a candidate similarly casting her as controversial.

Yet if anything, those challenges have only solidified the strength of the party’s left flank, which has grown in prominence and power since 2018 after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked Washington by defeating all-but-anointed speaker-in-waiting Joseph Crowley in a New York district that takes in parts of the Bronx and Queens.

The latest example of the liberal surge came last week in Missouri, when 44-year-old Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush unseated Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, the 64-year-old heir to a St. Louis political dynasty. The upset represented the fifth time a liberal candidate ousted an establishment Democrat since President Trump took office.

The same group that propelled Bush to power has quickly turned its sights to the northeast and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal’s Democratic primary in Massachusetts. There, they hope to stage yet another coup against an establishment incumbent as they seek to build their numbers in the lower chamber.

This week, Bush became the latest high-profile Democrat to do virtual and online rallies for Omar. Melton-Meaux had sought to cast Omar as a divisive figure, playing up comments she made about Jews that many viewed as anti-Semitic.

However, Omar in recent days has been touting the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other high-profile Democrats to help guide her across the finish line.

Melton-Meaux, meanwhile, was hit with a last-minute legal snag, as the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the official name of the state Democratic Party, alleged in a Federal Election Commission complaint that he violated federal election laws by hiding the identities of his political consultants.

The Minnesota race was one of several primaries happening Tuesday across the country. But while Democratic leaders may cheer Omar’s return to Congress, Republicans found themselves with more of a mixed bag of results.

In Minnesota’s 7th district, House GOP leaders appeared to secure their top candidate to take on vulnerable Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.). House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and the National Republican Congressional Committee recruited and were supporting Michelle Fischbach, a former state-senator-turned-lieutenant-governor, but she faced a five-way primary for the nomination.

Trump had also endorsed Fischbach to take on Peterson in a district the president carried by more than 30 points. As of 10 p.m., with just under 30 percent of the vote in, she was leading with 64 percent of Republican votes.

In Georgia, however, Republicans didn’t have the same luck and in fact were up late into the night fretting over whether they should have done more to stop Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was running to replace retiring Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.).

Greene, who runs a construction company, has endorsed the QAnon conspiracy theory, which includes the idea that Trump is a messianic figure fighting the so-called deep state and that he alone can be trusted. She has also made a series of racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic comments in videos first reported on by Politico in June. 

In one, Greene suggested that Black people “are held slaves to the Democratic Party.” She also called liberal investor George Soros a Nazi and filmed a campaign ad depicting her cocking a semiautomatic rifle while warning antifa, a loose collection of activists who oppose fascism and have sometimes embraced property damage and violent protest in recent years, to “stay the hell out of northwest Georgia.” Facebook removed the ad from its website.

In a June primary, Greene was the top vote-getter, winning 41 percent of the vote compared with neurosurgeon John Cowan’s 20 percent. The two faced off again Tuesday in a district Trump carried with 75 percent of the vote and have framed themselves as strong supporters of the president.

With the exception of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who sought to boost Cowan by donations and fundraising, GOP leaders have done little to try to undercut Greene’s candidacy, angering some of their own members. Trump, likewise, has not weighed in.

“There are a lot of members livid at McCarthy for sitting back and doing nothing to stop this woman from being elected while the entire Georgia delegation, Scalise and some moderates tried” to help her opponent, said one House Republican aide closely monitoring the race who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private discussions.