Incumbent Democrat Rep. Scott Peters and Republican challenger Carl DeMaio debated Sunday evening at the Islamic Center of San Diego, the latest contest in their close race for the 52nd congressional district seat. The debate was sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that was an un-indicted co-conspirator in a prominent terror funding trial, and that holds radical views on Middle East issues.
CAIR might seem an inhospitable host to either candidate. On its congressional scorecard, CAIR knocks Peters for a vote designating Israel as a “major strategic partner” of the U.S., and for voting for defense appropriations.
DeMaio, however, is the first openly gay Republican candidate in a major congressional race, which some in the religiously conservative portions of San Diego’s largely immigrant Muslim community may find hard to accept.
The themes of the debate, according to local ABC News affiliate 10 News, were religious freedom and civil liberties, alongside economic concerns such as small business regulation and taxes.
The 10 News report also mentioned that CAIR “recently received a threatening letter that reportedly referred to applying the death sentence and contained an unknown substance.” The report from 10 News did not mention CAIR’s radical ties.
The Islamic Center has wrestled with the radicalization of members of the local community. In 2012, an Al Qaeda video surfaced featuring a man from San Diego, 30-year-old Jehad Mostafa, and introduced him as the terror group’s envoy to Somalia. He had attended prayers at the Islamic Center with his family, though Imam Abdeljalil Mezgouri told 10 News at the time that Mostafa had not seemed radical, but rather “very polite.”
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak