The Anti-Defamation League asked state house candidate Sheldon Lisbon to retract an email he wrote with the subject line "A vote for Shelly Lisbon is a vote for the Jewish Community."
Lisbon, who is Jewish and white, is running in a Democratic primary against State Rep. Joe Gibbons (Hallandale Beach) who is black. The newly drawn District 100 has more Miami-Dade than Broward voters which is why it poses a challenge to Gibbons. The district is overwhelmingly white and heavily Jewish.
The ADL in Florida sent a letter to Lisbon June 27th following a blog about Lisbon's email posted in Naked Politics. "Appealing to voters along religious lines is divisive...," states the ADL letter signed by Andrew Rosenkranz, Florida ADL Regional Director. "A candidate's religious beliefs -- or lack thereof -- should never be used as a test for public office or as a shorthand summary of a candidate's qualifications."
Lisbon told the Miami Herald editorial board today about receiving the letter from the ADL.
"The ADL is a despicable organization," Lisbon told the editorial board. "It's entirely proper to go to your base. You can go to anyone you want to to ask for help. This is called Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Speech."
When an editorial board writer asked Lisbon if he had reached out to African-American voters he responded: "There aren't that many. ... Not yet." Lisbon said that he had been first reaching out to his base to get donations to his campaign.
Candidates often pander to voters who share their race, ethnicity or religion but it's typically not as blunt as Lisbon's email which stated "This district is primarily a Jewish district composed of residents like us."
In Broward, Jewish candidates (and sometimes non-Jewish ones) will appeal to Jewish voters by posting photos of themselves in Israel or listing involvement in local synagogues or Jewish organizations.
Lisbon was elected to the Surfside City Commission earlier this year but has to announce his resignation to run for state house.