TAMPA— Harry Cohen is the only Jewish candidate in the crowded race to become Tampa's next mayor.
But he believes his message of inclusiveness and civility earned him the endorsement of a national Muslim political action committee Wednesday.
Emgage PAC, a national bipartisan Muslim-American organization, picked Cohen as the best candidate for the March 5 election. The fact that he was Jewish didn't play into the decision, said spokesman Rummi Khan.
"We are looking to endorse the best of the community at large," Khan said.
Cohen said he thought his platform, which emphasizes infrastructure improvements, appealed to the group. But so did his message of unity.
"I do think my commitment to civility and diversity and being inclusive resonated with them," Cohen said.
The PAC, which also endorsed Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn in 2011, hasn't made any financial commitment to his campaign, Cohen said.
Tampa's Muslim community has been politically engaged in the race. Last week, the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay held a large mayoral forum in north Tampa that attracted several hundred people. This Sunday, the Arab American Community Festival and Muslims for Democracy and Fairness, another Muslim-American PAC, will hold an event for municipal candidates at Water Works Park.
Muslims for Democracy and Fairness has endorsed retired banker and philanthropist David Straz in the mayor’s race. Straz said he is “proud to have’’ the group’s backing.
Contact Charlie Frago at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727)893-8459. Follow@CharlieFrago.