March 12th, 2008
07:30 AM ET
10 years ago

Muslim candidate wins congressional seat

(CNN) - Indiana voters elected the second Muslim congressman in U.S. history Tuesday.

Andre Carson, the grandson of the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson and a Muslim convert, was elected in a special election, with 54 percent of the popular vote to Republican opponent Jon Elrod's 44 percent.

Julia Carson represented Indiana's 7th district for 10 years. Her grandson, a member of the Indianapolis City Council since August, will serve out the remainder of her term. In a primary in May, he will seek to be the Democratic nominee for a full two-year term.

In Carson's victory speech Tuesday, he said one of his biggest concerns was bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq.

The first and only other Muslim member of the U.S. Congress is first-term Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison.

–CNN's Emily Sherman

Filed under: Capitol Hill • Congress
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Tom, Iowa

    Yes, when Lewis Charles Levin was elected in 1944, it was a very big deal.

    Sozzi, that was awesome. Iowa has had a very bipolar week. Between Steve King and Karl Rove's hecklers at U of I, I think we will keep our "purple state" status.

    March 12, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. Mohamed

    for all of those who use religion as base of hate, or tactic to scare of votes just remember this country was founded based on freedom of religion as far as this guy being elected, i'm sure it was not based on his religion as a muslim american i can tell you the population of muslim americans in indiana is very little but he was elected based on his policy and what he can do for the ppl in that district, lets not use the politics of Bush and Rove to divide us so they can do anything they want for once let americans stand for american regardless of their religion, color, gender or anything that divides us.

    March 12, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. Andrew


    March 12, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. Means and Ends

    To those who ask why this is news, it is because the religion of Islam is being conflated with anti-American terrorism fo reasons of political gain.

    Keep in mind that as this story breaks it is the very same week in which another Congressman has made and then reiterated fear-mongering remarks that an Obama victory would hearten terrorists. As long as that is the political atmosphere in which we are living, I am very very very happy to see a story like this get reported. It stuffs right back in the face of those want to divide us all by our religious identities that they are losing and on the wrong side of history. it is no different as when the first of any minority community in this country breaks through to positions of political power. It is a sign of progress and certainly welcomed by me and many others.

    March 12, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. Eric

    Now we just need to get rid of this two party garbage and we might have a chance at turn this country around.

    March 12, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. Rose - Baltimore, MD

    I don't understand why some people on this blog are asking if this is news. YES, It is news because most people in America, a bigger percentage being closed minded republicans believe that being a muslim makes you a lesser American or even an American citizen with ties to the middle east. Hearing more of such news will educate much of these kinds of mind set.

    CNN, any muslim that is elected to such high office, pls. let us know. We are counting, we are now on # 2 or maybe 3 if we can force Obama to accept his grandfather's religion even though him and his birht father never practiced it.

    March 12, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. nick

    If you change your name to a muslim name they will freak out. How stupid it is to worry about an Americans religion. I wish him the best. There are good PEOPLE and bad PEOPLE of ALL religions and that is a fact.

    March 12, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. You make me laugh

    All this talk about equality when the polls show that blacks are overwhelmingly voting for Obama. These same voters liked Hillary before Obama became a candidate. And I bet if Obama's oponent was a white male Obama would still get the black vote. It does not matter that it is Hillary at all. Another point aganinst Hillary is that she is a women. Discrimination is alive and well.

    March 12, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. Fuad Abuamer (Tripoli)

    Othes shouldn't mix one's freedom of belief with his choice to serve his community. Otherwise, let us see how his religeous beliefs would affect on his duty.

    March 12, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  10. Deanna

    Yes, I agree we should not discriminate against religion, race or sex.

    I don't think being Muslim makes you a lesser American or not an American at all.

    HOWEVER, I do not think any special concessions should be made for anyone's religion. So no Chapels,no churches, no mosques, no temples, no shrines to Mecca in Capitol Hill Building or anywhere in public offices.

    I bet I'll get backlash on this one, but one day people will undertsnad why this is important.

    March 12, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  11. Kareem from Hampton VA

    KUDOS Indiana! Show the world that we arent as racist and prejudice as the republicans tried to make us look these last few years!! I think Indiana is ready for change...wait a sec dont they have a primary coming up!!!

    March 12, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. minority

    There is nothing wrong with a muslim being elected, the question is if this muslim has the heart for the welfare of the American people. The one born and raise here I believe will have that desire attach to her/his soul but honestly, if that person has spent part of his/her life outside the US, more so during her/his formative years, there is no way that the love for this country and its freedom will be foremost for him/her. People who do not believe in the Christian God and all the benevolence, sacrifices and love for their neighbor as thyself doctrine are easy to stick to their belief in their own supremebeing, tends to focus decisions using their religion, and if that religion is extreme on allegiance, then foremost will be thair own financial, power gain. Imagine if it is time to choose between religion and the American interest?. Strict religion could not separate state decisions.

    March 12, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. Lisa in Indiana

    I live in Indiana and watch the local news every night, and this national news report is the first time I've seen mention of Andre Carson's religion. This special election was held to replace his grandmother, Julia Carson, who died a couple of months ago. She was beloved in her community as a person and as a congresswoman. The district is reliably Democratic. Given the circumstances, it's hardly surprising that he won running against a very young and not well-known Republican, and a Libertarian.

    Why is his religion more important to CNN than it was to Hoosiers?

    March 12, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  14. A Bigger America

    I think Keith Ellison is the one that folks are confusing with Barack. When he entered the House of Representatives, he was sworn on the Koran, not Obama.

    Congrats to Mr. Carson, because religeon shouldn't matter.

    Congrats to Barack Obama for your win last night. Now on to Pennsylvania.

    Obama 08

    March 12, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. Jed in Texas

    Sounds like more fear mongering headlines.Didnt the Crusades get enough people killed in the name of religion.Religion is still the opiate of weak-minded people with a need for self-importance.I dont see any of these religions living up to what Jesus or any of the supposed Prophets taught.

    March 12, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Sal in Phoenix

    I guess this is just the beginning...heaven help us all.

    March 12, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  17. LifeLongDemocrat

    Think about this: would we feel the same if he was an Iraqi-American or an Iraqi immigrant? Ellison, my congressman was a raised a Catholic and is a convert also?

    March 12, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
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