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.


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