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The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Florida) is blasting Pinellas County Republican congressional candidate George Buck for statements on a fundraising letter suggesting that U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and others be executed by hanging.

  • George Buck running in Florida's 13th Congressional District
  • His email said "We should hang these traitors"
  • Republicans respond critically to his remarks

The Tampa Bay Times reported on Tuesday that Buck, a candidate running for Congress in Florida's 13th Congressional District which encompasses most of Pinellas County, proposed hanging Omar and four other Democrats in a fundraising email sent out last week.

The email repeated an unsubstantiated allegation that Omar, a Somali-based freshman Democrat from Minnesota, secretly works for the country of Qatar.

"We should hang these traitors where they stand," the email said.

Initially Buck denied writing the campaign email, the Times reported. But he followed up with a statement later in the day citing the federal punishment for treason, which includes death, prison time of at least five years and a fine of not less than $5,000. 

"Encouraging acts of deadly violence targeting elected officials is a very serious matter that should not be tolerated, especially when they are coming from anybody aspiring to hold public office," said CAIR-Florida's CEO Hassan Shibly in a statement on Wednesday. "George Buck's vicious statements are dangerous and incite the same groups that have committed such acts in the past."

Shibly went on to call for a "swift public condemnation from Republican Party state and national officials and for George Buck's public apology."

Some Republicans have responded critically to Buck's comments. 

"There's no place for inciting violence in politics," said Republican House Whip Steve Scalise from Louisiana.

"Instead of doubling down on these disrespectful comments, the candidate ought to apologize unequivocally and denounce these unacceptable statements, Scalise said, according to the Washington Post.

Todd Jennings, the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee Chairman, also criticized Buck's statements on Tuesday, writing on his Facebook page that "there is no room for this kind of inflammatory rhetoric in either political party. No one should ever condone a candidate's call for violence."

Jennings's statement ignited a torrent of criticism on his own page - against himself.

"Shame on you Todd Jennings for caving in to the liberal enemy of the state activist media. I lost respect for you," wrote one commentator.

Buck himself doesn't seem to be backing down. He posted a story on his Facebook page from the conservative website Freebeacon.com on Tuesday that was headlined, "Omar compares Trump to Al Capone." 

Buck is one of six Republicans who are running in the Congressional District 13 seat which has been held by Democrat Charlie Crist since 2016. He was the party's nominee in 2018, losing by 15 percentage points.