A Muslim Democrat running for a Nevada seat in the U.S. House of Representatives apparently received some stunning advice during a private meeting with retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid: “You should not run for this office” because “a Muslim cannot win this race.”
According to an article by David Farenthold, who covers Congress for the Washington Post, Jesse Sbaih — an immigrant from Jordan who is now a trial lawyer — was seeking Reid’s support in his first run for political office in a district that includes a swath of suburban Las Vegas.
The candidate stated that he wanted the minority leader’s blessing, which is “a key factor in Nevada, where Reid is the unquestioned power broker of Democratic politics,” the Post reporter noted. “But Reid would not give it,” Sbaih said, and “cited his religion as one reason why.”
“I did not feel that this was an issue,” Sbaih explained. “My campaign is about me being an American.”
The candidate said he had never faced this kind of opposition before: “I just turned 40. Been in this country for 29 years. And it’s just absolutely shocking that this occurred.”
Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for the minority leader, “confirmed that the meeting took place,” Farenthold noted. “However, she categorically denied” that the retiring senator “had said those words” or “cited Sbaih’s religion as a reason he would not succeed.”