ANAHEIM COUNCIL CANDIDATE LEAVES GOP AS ELECTION NEARS
Acknowledging it might be political suicide, Anaheim City Council candidate Bill Dalati said Wednesday he was leaving the Republican Party after being vilified by prominent GOP leaders as being anti-American and a supporter of extremist groups.
Dalati, an Arab American who had been a Republican since becoming a U.S. citizen 19 years ago, re-registered as a Democrat outside the registrar of voters office.
Even though the council race is nonpartisan, Dalati said he no longer felt comfortable being a Republican.
"This is going to hurt me politically," said Dalati, an insurance agent taking his first run at elective office. "There are a lot more Republicans in Orange County than Democrats. But it wouldn't have been the honest thing to do, to stay in a party that has abandoned me."
The allegations against Dalati, who considered himself a moderate Republican, surfaced last month in a letter to local GOP leaders from former state party Chairman Shawn Steel.
Steel wrote that Dalati could be unfit for office because of his ties to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, his support of Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney - a liberal Democrat from Georgia - and his involvement with a rally protesting the Israel-Lebanon conflict. Steel said he considered the Islamic council an extremist group.
Steel said Wednesday that Dalati's political future would not be tied to his party affiliation.