The race to replace former congressman Ron Wright, who passed away from COVID-19 in February, in the TX-06 congressional special election, has taken xenophobic turn that sparked national headlines thanks to comments from Sery Kim, a former Trump administration official, who said at a candidate forum she didn’t want Chinese immigrants in the country, and claimed they spread the coronavirus.
Kim, who previously worked in the Small Business Administration under former President Trump, made the comments at a forum sponsored by the Arlington Republican Club and Arlington Republican Women. The candidate was speaking about Chinese immigrants and said, “I don’t want them here at all. They steal our intellectual property, they give us coronavirus, they don’t hold themselves accountable. And quite frankly, I can say that because I’m Korean.”
According to her campaign, Kim has also filed a $10 million defamation suit against the Texas Tribune and reporter Patrick Svitek for an article about her comments, which also detailed that she lost the support of two Korean-American members of congress: Rep. Young Kim and Rep. Michelle Steel.
Kim is not the first Republican candidate to draw scrutiny in the special election. Former professional wrestler Dan Rodimer, who previously ran unsuccessfully twice in Nevada, was ridiculed for attempting to re-invent himself as a tough-talking cowboy (with an entirely new southern drawl) in an ad touting his candidacy in Texas.
The special election for the sixth congressional district is set for May 1. There are over twenty candidates in the race, including Susan Wright, the widow of Ron Wright, who has the backing of a number of Texas Republicans, including Rep. Lance Gooden and the Mayor of Arlington Jeff Williams. If no candidate gets above fifty percent, a run-off will occur with the top two finishers.
The TX-06 congressional district includes Ellis and Navarro counties, and a portion of Tarrant county. In the 2020 election, attorney Stephen Daniel lost to Wright, 52.8-44 in a DCCC red-to-blue targeted race. However, Biden lost the district to Trump by just 3 points.
There are several Democrats in the race, with three women leading the pack in terms of endorsements and fundraising. Shawn Lassiter, an educator and nonprofit leader, raised her profile after the winter storm with an ad filmed in her powerless home. That ad was shared thousands of times on social media.
Lassiter was recently endorsed by the Collective PAC, one of the largest organizations dedicated to increasing Black political representation. She also has been touted on Twitter by Dulé Hill, one of the stars of the comedy “Psych,” which fittingly had a main character named Shawn Lassiter.
Jana Lynne Sanchez, who previously ran for this seat in 2018, is also gaining momentum in the race. A poll her campaign commissioned in March showed her and Wright leading the field, though many voters were still undecided. Nuestro PAC, founded by former Bernie Sanders advisor and native Texan Chuck Rocha, recently purchased a media buy on behalf of Sanchez.
Former professor Dr. Lydia Bean has also earned a number of endorsements, most notably from the Texas AFL-CIO. In 2020, Bean ran for the Texas House of Representatives in District 93. Bean lost to State Rep. Matt Krause.
Early voting for the special election begins April 19.
Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images