Meet the candidates for US Senate: Deedra Abboud

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Deedra Abboud wears a headscarf and she also speaks with a slight twang in her voice from growing up in Arkansas and that has a tendency to throw people. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Deedra Abboud wears a headscarf and she also speaks with a slight twang in her voice from growing up in Arkansas and that has a tendency to throw people. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Abboud makes it clear that she believes in the separation of religion and state. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Abboud makes it clear that she believes in the separation of religion and state. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Abboud also knows that her headscarf can raise eyebrows and suspicions. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Abboud also knows that her headscarf can raise eyebrows and suspicions. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

People are often surprised, and sometimes a little confused, by Deedra Abboud. 

She is a proud Muslim. She wears a headscarf and she also speaks with a slight twang in her voice from growing up in Arkansas and that has a tendency to throw people.

"Anytime I start speaking, I see shock and their eyes open trying to figure out what's going on because I have an accent. Just not the one they're expecting,” Abboud said.

Abboud says she's about changing expectations, especially when it comes to politics. She believes too many people place politicians in ivory towers when they should be held accountable and working for the people.

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Her campaign strategy focuses heavily on motivating younger voters and people not previously involved in politics. In nine months, she attended more than 500 events to campaign, reaching out to potential voters, sometimes in unusual places such as raves and even comedy clubs.

Even prior to the 2016 Presidential election, she says she noticed the national dialogue turning negative and destructive. It was the push she needed to run for office. Her goal is to change the dialogue.

She believes she can help bring people together through civil and open conversations. 

"In the end, America, the United States, we're a family," says Abboud. "We are dysfunctional family and we don't always like each other, but in the end, we're a family. A family always tries to work out their dysfunction.”

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As a lawyer, Abboud focuses on civil rights and liberties, something she wants to continue if elected. It is also something she knows about on a very personal level. On the campaign trail, she has been targeted by groups and individuals spouting racism, hate and ignorance. Many targeting her because she's Muslim.  

Abboud makes it clear that she believes in the separation of religion and state.  

"I think everyone should be able to have their own relationship with God and that the government should be outside the relationship with God," she said.

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Racism is something else she's been aware of since she was a child. 

Her mother was a federal investigator who worked on the Timothy McVeigh case after the Oklahoma City Bombing. It is a time she remembers vividly.

"She went around Arkansas meeting with white supremacist groups. I grew up knowing that white supremacist groups existed. What their ideas were and that they were a fringe group. In 2016, suddenly they were elevated to equal status with every other idea we have in America. So I knew these things existed and I knew we weren't confronting them and we weren't denouncing them. We weren't saying who we are as a country. That was putting us in a very negative position. I knew if we had those conversations we could decide whether they represent us," she said.

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Abboud also knows that her headscarf can raise eyebrows and suspicions. What often raises eyebrows when Abboud first meets someone is her headscarf, but, for her, it is part of her identity and another way to relate to each other in a simpler way.

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"I'm a proud Muslim," says Abboud regarding her headscarf. "There's an independence in it for me personally because people don't judge me on my body style or body type or whether they think I'm pretty or if I have nice legs. All that is taken away because it shouldn't be part of our relationships," she said.

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