A Democratic U.S. House candidate alleges that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) advised him to end his campaign, telling him that “a Muslim cannot win this race,” the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for Reid told the Post that the senator never said that, however.
Jesse Sbaih, who immigrated from Jordan and is a trial lawyer, told the newspaper that he met with Reid in August while seeking the minority leader’s support for his campaign. Sbaih, who is running for office for the first time, alleged that Reid didn’t give his support, citing Sbaih’s religion.
“He said, ‘You should not run for this office,’” Sbaih told the Post. “I did not feel that this was an issue. They made it an issue. My campaign is about me being an American.”
Reid’s spokeswoman, Kristen Orthman, confirmed to the newspaper that Reid met with Sbaih but denied that Reid said Sbaih would lose the race because of his religion.
“Senator Reid did not say that,” Orthman told the Post. “Jesse Sbaih is a liar and that’s why he is going to lose.”
“We never said he shouldn’t run for elected office,” she added. “It was that, to run for a congressional seat, your first time, you’re going to lose. And you need more experience.”
The Post reported that Sbaih provided emails and text messages with Reid allies to bolster his account, but noted those messages did not show the minority leader or his allies referring to Sbaih’s race or religion as an obstacle in the House race.