Basim Sabri, man behind pro-Abdi Warsame fliers, says he prefers Hitler to Lilligren

Warsame (left) easily defeated the incumbent Lilligren and will become the first Somali on the City Council.
Warsame (left) easily defeated the incumbent Lilligren and will become the first Somali on the City Council.

Yesterday, a political action committee associated with Basim Sabri, a controversial developer who has a longstanding beef with Minneapolis City Council member Robert Lilligren, covered the Sixth Ward with fliers smearing Lilligren and urging voters to cast their ballots for Abdi Warsame.

RELATED: Robert Lilligren's campaign accuses Somali challenger of using homophobic tactics

Hours later, it became clear that Warsame had comfortably defeated Lilligren, thereby becoming the first Somali to win election to the City Council (Lilligren, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe who was first elected in 2001, is the council's first Native American).

Warsame won nearly two-thirds of first-choice votes, compared to just shy of one-third for Lilligren. With a margin that substantial, Warsame was probably headed toward victory even without the last-minute boost from Sabri. Nonetheless, the fliers and Sabri's over-the-top dislike for Lilligren caused quite a stir.

Asked about the fliers by the Star Tribune yesterday, Sabri offered up this response: "Anybody who ran against Lilligren would get my support ... If Hitler ran against Lilligren, I personally will support him."

As you'd imagine in light of comments like that, Warsame is trying to distance himself from Sabri. After we covered the flier fiasco yesterday, Warsame's campaign sent an email with the subject "disgusting campaign tactics." Here's what it says:

It has come to our attention that Basim Sabri and his political action committee, on their own volition, have distributed pamphlets concerning today's election. We firmly denounce these tactics and affirm that the "Vote Warsame for Ward 6" campaign had nothing to do with it. We condemn the pamphlet and we are appalled that Abdi Warsame's name was used on it.

"Vote Warsame For Ward 6" campaign has always run a clean campaign, and the actions of Basim Sabri and his political action committee are disgusting.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at

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