March 29, 2016

Harry Reid Under Fire For Alleged Anti-Muslim Comments

As outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s Super PAC pours money into marquee races, a breaking report could cause Reid to become a liability for Democrats up and down the ballot.

The Washington Post reports that a Democrat running in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District is alleging that Reid tried to force him out of the race due to his Muslim faith:

A Muslim Democrat running for a U.S. House seat in Nevada says that — in a private meeting last year — Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) had encouraged him to end his campaign by saying, “a Muslim cannot win this race.”

“He said, ‘You should not run for this office,’” said Jesse Sbaih, an immigrant from Jordan who is now a trial lawyer. This race for the House, in a district that includes a swath of suburban Las Vegas, is his first run for political office.

Reid’s political operatives are categorically denying Sibah’s claims, even going as far to call Sibah a “liar.” But emails and text messages released to the Post by Sibah document him expressing his anger shortly after the meeting, and top Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston confirmed that the issue of Sbaih’s religion was on the table:

Reid & Co. obviously realize that how this is spun could be a political problem for the senator, especially because he has publicly been railing about Donald Trump and the GOP’s intolerance for Muslims. Sometimes the cold political calculations behind closed doors are not easily reconcilable with Senate floor screeds.

I’ve confirmed that Sbaih’s religion did come up in conversations as a potential avenue of attack from opponents, but the Henderson lawyer insists Reid went further, saying to him, “Let me blunt. You are not going to be able to win because you are a Muslim.”

Sibah’s accusation alone is sure to raise uncomfortable questions for candidates soliciting and receiving Reid’s support, and if Sbaih’s account is verified, it will likely carry serious consequences for Democrats far beyond the retiring Reid.