The first couple of Hernando County’s Republican Party find themselves increasingly at odds with GOP leaders from around the state for comments the pair made about Muslims.

Charlie Crist joined the critics Friday, condemning Mary Ann Hogan’s comments that Islam is a “hateful, frightening religion.” Crist’s campaign unceremoniously removed Hogan, wife of Commissioner Tom Hogan Sr., from its Women for Crist Coalition.

“Charlie Crist believes that we must not confuse those who practice any religion with a prayer toward peace with extremists who pervert religion to further a radical cause,” said campaign spokeswoman Erin Isaac. “He will not condone bigotry or discrimination in any form. For those reasons, Ms. Hogan will no longer be affiliated with the campaign.”

A letter by Mary Ann Hogan to the St. Petersburg Times touched off the political firestorm. The heated last days leading into the election have fueled the controversy. . .

Also on Friday, Jim Davis, Crist’s opponent, issued a statement condemning the couple’s remarks.

Ahmed Bedier, executive director for Tampa’s chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said he was pleased at the swift response of both gubernatorial candidates and other leaders from around the state.


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