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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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House candidate escorted out of coffee shop after verbal altercation

House candidate escorted out of coffee shop after verbal altercation

Kenneth Bush, the Republican-endorsed candidate for Minnesota House Seat 25B, was escorted out of a Rochester coffee shop Friday afternoon following a verbal altercation with mayoral candidate Regina Mustafa.

Witnesses say the two were meeting at Cafe Steam on South Broadway when Bush became loud and hostile toward Mustafa. He told Mustafa "fu— you" multiple times while criticizing her over issues ranging from Islam to abortion, according to three people who were in the cafe at the time. The incident was loud enough to draw the attention of everyone in the business. 

One witness, who was directly next to Bush and Mustafa, said Bush verbally attacked Mustafa to the point that she was in tears. 

Mustafa took to social media shortly after the altercation, drawing an outpouring of support. "At Steam in tears - the man cursed me out in front of the whole damn coffee shop," she wrote. "I'm shaking."

Reached later in the day, Mustafa said she is shocked by the incident and feels she was "the victim of a sexist, and Islamophobic verbal aggression."

The coffee shop meeting was the second time Mustafa and Bush had interacted in recent days. The two met earlier this week at a public event involving the Broadway Avenue reconstruction project. 

Mustafa, who is Muslim, said during their conversation Bush made offensive comments about her faith — an assertion Bush refuted.

After the event, the two agreed to have coffee to discuss their differences.  

Speaking to us after the meeting, Bush said Mustafa is trying to label him as Islamophobic "when that couldn't be further from the truth." He said he was defending himself from Mustafa, who he described as a "bully."

"She got upset because I don't believe what she believes," Bush said. He later addressed the incident in a note to Facebook, stating, "In light of the recent event at Cafe Steam, I want people to know that sometimes my passion and exuberance for the City of Rochester get the best of me."

Rochester police were called to the scene following the incident. No formal report was filed, but notes regarding the incident were recorded. 

Bush, a local realtor, is campaigning for House Seat 25B, which is now held by Democratic Rep. Duane Sauke. 

Story updated 4.15.18

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