- - Wednesday, October 17, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Throughout election season, Democrats have touted “diversity” as they pointed to African-American, Latino, female and Muslim candidates as the party’s future. Republicans tend to reject this kind of box-checking appeal to voters in favor of policy messaging and their candidates’ individual merits.

But of the many strong Republican candidates on the midterm ballot, one deserves special mention because his mere political presence represents an existential threat to the Democrats’ “diversity” offensive.

Omar Qudrat resoundingly beat five Republican candidates in the primary to take on Democratic incumbent Scott Peters in California’s 52nd district. While a blue district, it has been known to vote Republican; it was won by John McCain and George W. Bush and has had in the past, at least in part, Republican congressional representation, which may mean that Mr. Qudrat has a shot at flipping this blue district red in a year when conventional “wisdom” predicts a blue wave. It also may explain why the national media is ignoring him.

“I disrupt the narrative of the left,” Mr. Qudrat told me in a wide-ranging interview.

At just 36 years old, this self-described “basketball-playing surfer from Los Angeles” has a vibrant American story. Born in southern California to parents (“Reagan Republicans”) who immigrated legally from Afghanistan in the early 1970s for the American dream, Mr. Qudrat had to navigate California’s failing public schools and the serious gang problem that plagued his LA neighborhood.

But he went on to earn his law degree, and instead of pursuing a lucrative private sector career, he went to work for the Defense Department, where his first assignment was an 18-month stint in Afghanistan as an adviser to the military command and political adviser to the NATO ambassador. Once back stateside, he served as a prosecutor with the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Military Commissions, supporting the counter-terrorism prosecutions of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Today, he serves as a captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps as a reserve officer.

If elected, Mr. Qudrat would also be the first Muslim Republican to serve in Congress. Despite the fact that Mr. Qudrat serves in the military, has held the highest security clearances, risked his life in Afghanistan, prosecuted members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, has forcefully denounced terrorist organizations and the ideology that inspires them, and calls religion “irrelevant when the public official understands his or her oath is to the Constitution,” some primary opponents attacked his background. He won anyway.

“I’ve spent my career fighting the global insurgency of radical Islam. We’ve got to destroy it — including where and when it presents itself at home — if we are to have any sense of security,” he says.

Importantly, he emphasizes the need to achieve the longer-term goal of “extinguishing” the fundamentalist ideology advanced insidiously by the Muslim Brotherhood and its associated groups. “I know this threat inside and out,” he says. “I can identify it and disrupt it. I see clearly that they are weaponizing our Constitution and our rights against us and seeking protection in bogus arguments of “prejudice” and “bias” to undermine our ability to defend ourselves. If we don’t address the ideological and military battlefields, we’re facing endless cycles of this war.”

He condemns sharia as “incompatible with the Constitution” he “would die to protect.” A strong supporter of Israel, Mr. Qudrat is endorsed by the Republican Jewish Coalition, a powerful national advocate for pro-Israeli foreign policy.

Mr. Qudrat is also endorsed by major party leaders and members of California’s congressional delegation, including former Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa and current House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce. He is also supported by notable members with strong military backgrounds such as former Navy SEAL, Congressman Scott Taylor. Even so, in the face of what many see as a Democratic year and the fact that this is California, after all, he’s optimistic despite the uphill battle.

“We deserve a representative who will actually fight to make our district and country better. Solutions to our veteran homelessness crisis, which is morally unacceptable, a better education for our nation’s kids, a strong economy and military, a secure nation — I am committed to delivering these things in Congress,” Qudrat tells me.

It’s obvious why he strikes fear among Democrats; they’ve pushed identity politics to the Muslim-American community for years and celebrated Muslims in their top ranks, such as Keith Ellison, Andre Carson and new candidate Rashida Tlaib. A Republican candidate who also happens to be a Muslim is hugely problematic for their political story line. The Democrats and press know it, so they ignore him, hoping he’ll disappear.

But for a guy who has stared down the world’s most dangerous terrorists, staring down Nancy Pelosi, her party and the media should be a breeze. In an age of political disruption, few upend stereotypes as ably as Mr. Qudrat, making him an invaluable conservative voice far into the future.

• Monica Crowley is a columnist for The Washington Times.


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