U.S. House Candidate Could Be State's First Muslim Rep

This story was written by Dayna Sheinberg, Indiana Daily Student
If Andre Carson wins the Seventh Indiana Congressional district seat, he will be the second Muslim elected to Congress and the first to represent the state of Indiana.

Carson, 33, is the Democratic candidate in the special election for his late grandmother Rep. Julia Carson's seat on March 11.

While Carson is a member of the Muslim community, he does not want his faith to be what defines him.

"Andre wants to represent the people and the important issues they are facing." said Kyra Jennings, Carson's press secretary and official spokesperson. "The campaign is not specifically focused on his faith."

Carson's grandmother, Julia, had a major impact on his life.

"His grandmother was a huge influence on who he is," Jennings said. "He wants to be able to carry on her proud tradition of public service."

According to his official Web site, AndreCarsonforCongress.com, "Andre believes that community involvement contributes greatly to the cultural advantage that makes Indianapolis a world-class city."

Carson has been endorsed by several influential political leaders, including Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., currently the only Muslim in Congress. Carson's opponent in the election is Republican Jon Elrod.

"Right now we're very focused on the special election in March," Jennings said. "The numbers are looking good but we're not taking anything for granted."

Carson wants to invoke change if elected, Jennings said.

"Carson is part of a new generation and standing up for a change." Jennings said.

Carson's wife is a teacher and education is very important to him, she said.

According to his Web site, Carson said, "Our education system is broken and our schools are failing our students. The best down payment we can make in Indiana's economic future is by investing in education today."

Carson is also against the war in Iraq, Jennings said.

"He is standing up for a responsible plan to bring our troops home," she said.

The economy is another issue that Carson is serious about addressing, Jennings said.

"The economy is number one," Jennings said. "Indiana is struggling when it comes to the economic situation. He talks about having companies keeping jobs here in Indiana and having tax cuts given to working Hoosiers and not millionaires."

Carson converted to Islam more than 10 years ago, Jennings said, but regardless of his faith he wants people to know that it is only just a component.

"We want to emphasize that he happens to be a Muslim but he is also an Indy 500-loving Hoosier and a police Hoosier," Jennings said. "It's just a part of who he is."
© 2008 Indiana Daily Student via U-WIRE
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