The Islamic Center of the Capital District in Colonie held a meet the candidates night for the five Democrats in the 21st Congressional district race Saturday night. Attendance was good, about 200 people, and the question and answer session was pretty standard – save for some of Joe Sullivan’s exchanges with the audience.

Liaquat Husain, the voting drive leader at the center, said Sunday that things got pretty uncomfortable when Sullivan proclaimed his views that certain countries have a right to be invaded, and said Sullivan told the audience he believes the U.S. should invade Iran.

“He made some people really upset,” Husain said.

Sullivan claims in his own e-mailed statement that he was called a “redneck” by members of the audience. Other accounts say his views were described by someone in the audience as being redneck in nature.

Sullivan went on in his e-mail to reiterate what he told the mostly Muslim audience – that he objected to the Pledge of Allegiance not being recited at the forum, among other points.

His statement Sunday read, “Some in the audience argued that the Mosque is a religious place that need not display a flag. Sullivan replied that the Mosque is in America and this was a political forum for candidates for the Congress of the United States of America.”

Other than that, audience members asked all of the panel, which also included Tracey Brooks, Darius Shahinfar, Phil Steck and Paul Tonko, questions about the economy, environment, the Iraq war, immigration and education.

The Republicans in the race will have a separate meet the candidate nights at another time.


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