Cobb economist seeks to be first Muslim Republican in Congress

Mohammad Bhuiyan and his wife Shamima Amin, with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (right). AJC file

Mohammad Bhuiyan and his wife Shamima Amin, with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (right). AJC file

A Cobb County economist who led an aborted effort to hold a Nobel peace summit in Atlanta is joining the crowded field to replace Rep. Tom Price, running to be the first Republican Muslim member of the U.S. House.

Mohammad Ali Bhuiyan said Friday he was entering the contest to represent the north Atlanta district, which spans from east Cobb through north Fulton to north DeKalb. His bid will focus on “out of control” government spending.

“Washington has become a center of power to serve and protect special interest groups and is no longer good for ordinary citizens,” he said. “We all need to get involved, say ‘No to this broken system and send an honest and experienced business/education leader to work for ordinary citizens.”

Bhuiyan and his wife, Shamima Amin, began the nonprofit Yunus Creative Lab with Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. And he planned in 2014 to hold a summit that would bring at least 21 of the 30 living recipients of the Peace Prize to the city.

But it collapsed after months of turmoil and the resignation of several influential politicians and leaders, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who clashed with Bhuiyan. He said he learned valuable lessons from the summit’s failure.

“It surprised me the lengths that politicians would go for their personal benefit. The public good was not their main concern,” he said. “And it is my first and foremost concern.”

Bhuiyan, who moved to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 1986,  is a long-shot contender in the race to succeed Price, who was tapped as Trump’s health secretary.

Republican state Sen. Judson Hill of Marietta has confirmed he is running in the special election, which will be set by Gov. Nathan Deal after Price formally resigns.

Two other GOP contenders are likely to join the race: Former Secretary of State Karen Handel and ex-state Sen. Dan Moody. (Handel is not likely to enter the race until after Price’s confirmation hearing).

Dunwoody jeweler Bruce LeVell, who was head of Donald Trump’s national diversity coalition, is also considering a bid. Joseph Pond, a union plumber from Marietta, is seeking office as an independent. And several other self-styled GOP outsiders could still run.

On the Democratic side of the race, there are at least four candidates in the running: Former state Rep. Sally Harrell, attorney Josh McLaurin, one-time House aide Jon Ossoff and former state Sen. Ron Slotin.

Democrats face an uphill battle in the heavily conservative district, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb. Price, who was tapped as Donald Trump’s health secretary, won it by more than 60 percent of the vote.

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