Eagle County Republican candidate Muhammad Ali Hasan, who is 27, has had his share of road bumps in his quest for House District 56.
The flamboyant founder of Muslims for Bush and son of multimillionaire HMO executive Malik Hasan, Ali had to switch races – he originally coveted a Senate seat – after state Republican leaders pressured him not to challenge longtime GOP politico Al White, who is also seeking the job. Then Ali, who lives in a $10 million mansion in Eagle, had a request for a restraining order filed against him by his former girlfriend, publicist and campaign volunteer Alison Miller. She accused him of harassing her by text message, attempting to break into her e-mail, and demanding that she sign a waiver saying she wouldn’t sue him for doing so. Miller later dropped the request.
But things appear to be heading in a more positive direction. Earlier this month, Ali hired Kaye Ferry, who headed the Vail Chamber and Business Association for eighteen years before stepping down in April, as his campaign manager. Always outspoken, Ferry is no stranger to the public eye or to controversy. As she was leaving her job, Ferry became embroiled in a to-do over a story on the Colorado Confidential website in which she was quoted calling Front Range skiers “riff-raff.” Ferry has said the story was inaccurate.
Ferry and Ali met at around the same time, just before the Vail Film Festival when Ali, who studied film making in college in California, tried to get his short film, Rabia – about a female suicide bomber -- into the lineup. Although the deadline had passed, Ferry, who is on the festival’s board, says Ali was delightful to work with, and the film was included. (It will be screened next at the Breckenridge Festival of Film on June 7.)
“We really connected,” she says, adding that their recent trying times were similar. “Both of the challenges we have faced have come from sources that were not very credible,” Ferry says. “Dealing with the media, it’s a very tricky game you play. Sometimes it works and sometime it doesn’t. That is one of things we bonded over.”
Ferry has never run a political campaign before, but she has been deeply involved in Eagle County politics for nearly two decades and has an enormous number of contacts in the business and political landscapes there. Although she says she’d been looking forward to some time off, “this came along and I think it is a perfect situation,” she adds. “We really understand where each other is coming from.”
Ferry will also have the luxury of not having to raise money. Ali has so far donated more than $54,000 to his own campaign. While some people might accuse him of trying to buy the election, Ferry says Ali’s resources means he's not beholden to anyone either.
Ali is expected to be nominated by the Republican Party at the state GOP convention this Saturday, May 31. He will then face Democrat Christine Scanlan in the general election. -- Jonathan Shikes