Deedra Abboud probably knew running for a US Senate seat in Arizona wasn’t going to be an easy road. However, since announcing her run in April, she’s faced an endless stream of harassment and hate speech, including many comments that attack her Muslim religion and decision to wear a hijab. Her opponent, Republican Senator Jeff Flake, refused to be associated with the vitriol, however, and extended kind words to his opponent in an apologetic tweet telling her to “hang in there.”
Senator Flake tweeted out the kind encouragement to Abboud on July 18, writing, “Hang in there. Sorry you have to put up with this. Lots of wonderful people across AZ. You’ll find them.”
Hang in there @deedra2018. Sorry you have to put up with this. Lots of wonderful people across AZ. You’ll find them. https://t.co/uVfLaAfVV2
– Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) July 19, 2017
Abboud thanked Flake in a tweet, and wrote to him, “Thank you Jeff Flake for leadership in rejecting behavior that doesn’t reflect our American values. AZ’s amazing people deserve more of this.”
Thank you @JeffFlake for leadership in rejecting behavior that doesn’t reflect our American values. AZ’s amazing people deserve more of this https://t.co/t0FztPNKbj
– Deedra2018 (@deedra2018) July 19, 2017
Flake’s tweet was quickly met with praise as a clear example of how politics don’t need to be hateful. To be clear, this isn’t necessarily a one-time change of heart for the senator. Flake publicly opposed the travel ban, which targeted Muslim-majority countries, and is also no fan of Donald Trump; he called for Trump to leave the presidential race after the infamous Access Hollywood tape was released.
Trump, who is known to hold grudges, hopes to unseat Flake in the 2018 primary with other Republican candidates.
Abboud isn’t the first female candidate to face extreme hatred and discrimination online this year. Kim Weaver, a Democrat running for Congress, dropped out of the race in Iowa in June due to death threats.