Sri Preston Kulkarni’s campaign in TX-22 is continuing to earn national attention and praise. This morning, CNN highlighted Kulkarni and the 22nd District at the center of Democrats’ national effort to drive deep into Republican-held suburban territory.
The article hones in on Nehls and Wall’s extremism, noting it’s a liability for both Republicans in an increasingly moderate district. It specifically cited Nehls’ continued downplaying of the coronavirus threat. A spokesman for the Nehls campaign even suggested that Governor Abbott’s mask order was unnecessary in the article. This statement comes just days after Fort Bend County passed 4,000 confirmed cases.
See below for relevant excerpts. Read the full article here.
By Ron Brownstein
July 7, 2020
Kulkarni says the climate for Democrats in the district is more favorable now and that Trump is “absolutely” weaker than he was there even two years ago. Under Trump, Kulkarni says, Republicans “are not looking for a broad coalition, they are focusing on a very small but intense coalition and they are leaving out the suburbs.” Nearly 46% of the district’s residents hold at least a four-year college degree and racial minorities compose a majority of its population, with immigrants representing nearly 1-in-4 residents, census figures show.
Kulkarni’s race captures another critical element of the battle for these white-collar districts. Many of them are in metropolitan areas at the epicenter of this year’s twin national earthquakes: the coronavirus outbreak and the eruption of protests that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd’s funeral was held just across the border in Harris County, which has emerged as one of the centers of the outbreak, with a surging caseload (more than 36,000 as of Monday) that officials warn may soon overwhelm its hospital system.
Kulkarni has been unflinching in criticizing Trump on both fronts; he told me he considers the President’s response to the Floyd protests a “threat to American values” and Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak “the biggest failure of leadership in the government” he has ever seen.
From the outset, Kulkarni’s two potential Republican opponents (the nominee will be decided in a runoff next week) have dueled over which supports Trump more. Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, the front-runner, derided an earlier attempt by Harris County officials to require mask-wearing as “unnecessary, unconstitutional, and unAmerican … an unprecedented overreach which looks more like a communist dictatorship than a free Republic.”
(After GOP Gov. Greg Abbott last week imposed a statewide mask requirement, Nehls did not criticize him but suggested in a statement that he considered it unnecessary in Fort Bend. “The Governor’s going to do what he’s going to do to combat this virus statewide but this virus isn’t affecting everyone the same,” said campaign spokesman Nick Maddux.)
And neither Nehls nor rival Kathaleen Wall has dissented from Trump as he’s escalated his attacks on the protests and protesters, such as calling Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate.”