Last updated on March 27, 2020
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, drew a backlash on social media and from Asian American advocates on Wednesday for claiming China was “to blame” for the spread of the coronavirus because of a “culture where people eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that.”
'These viruses are transmitted from the animal to the people and that's why China has been the source of a lot of these viruses like SARS, like MERS, the Swine flu, and now the coronavirus, so I think they have a fundamental problem, the Texas Republican said to reporters, saying he did not object to a geographic name for the virus.
Asked about Asian Americans' concerns about racism, Cornyn said, “I disagree. We're not talking about Asians. We're talking about China, where these viruses emanate from and created this pandemic.”
Cornyn's office did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.
Swine flu was first detected in the United States in 2009, and MERS was first identified in Jordan in 2012, according to the CDC. The CDC says the first cases of SARS were reported in China's Guangdong province in 2002.
Meanwhile, on Team Blue, we have two Democrats facing a runoff in May. MJ Hegar (D. TX) picked up a big endorsement:
A national political action committee that backs more restrictive gun laws has endorsed Democratic Senate hopeful MJ Hegar, becoming the second gun-control group to do so since early last month.
Brady PAC, the political arm of the nation's oldest anti-gun violence advocacy group, announced on Tuesday it’s swung behind Hegar in this year’s Texas race for U.S. Senate – even before Democrats finish picking a nominee.
Hegar, a decorated Air Force rescue helicopter pilot and former congressional candidate from Round Rock, is in a May 26 runoff against Dallas state Sen. Royce West.
The two are wrestling for the Democratic nomination against three-term Republican Sen. John Cornyn.
Last week, West, after finishing second to Hegar in initial voting, unveiled endorsements by three Democrats who ran unsuccessfully in the primary.
On Tuesday, Brady PAC said it would spend money, although it didn’t say how much, to try to help elect Hegar.
“Brady PAC will be putting their full weight behind MJ’s candidacy and are in discussions on the best way to do that including, online fundraising,” Brian Lemek, Brady PAC’s executive director, said in a written statement.
Asked why Hegar is a better choice than West, Lemek replied, “As a mother, veteran, gun violence survivor and gun owner, MJ understands this epidemic of gun violence and the reasonable solutions to fix it. Royce West, however, has voted multiple times to expand the places people can carry guns, including school grounds, and we think that is unacceptable.”
The gun platforms of Hegar and West largely resemble one another. Both Democrats support a ban of sale of assault-style rifles, a red flag law to allow removal of guns from owners deemed a threat and closing loopholes in background check laws. Hegar has called for repeal of Texas’ open carry of handguns, and West on Tuesday said he voted against the bill and also favors its repeal.
West, though, has drawn some criticism from gun-control activists for coauthoring a bill last year on school marshals.
Expanding on a 2013 program that let teachers and other school personnel who undergo training have weapons at school, the 2019 law erased a requirement that guns be locked up if the school district employee has a lot of contact with students. Supporters said districts should be able to decide whether these employees also can carry concealed handguns when students are present.
Former United States Congressman and Houston City Council Member Chris Bell announced his endorsement of Royce West Thursday afternoon in Houston.
Michael Cooper, a Beaumont pastor, former candidate for United States Senate, and President of the NAACP of Beaumont, announced his endorsement of Senator Royce West in the upcoming Democratic Primary runoff election in Beaumont Thursday morning.
Bell won more than 20 counties across Texas including a number of West Texas and Texas Panhandle counties such as Potter and Randall Counties, as well as Brazoria County along the Texas Gulf Coast, earning more than 158,000 votes in the March 3 Democratic Primary.
“I believe Senator West’s experience in the Texas Senate is invaluable in this race. He is the only candidate now in this race with experience as an elected official in Texas,” Bell said. “Senator West is a leader in the Texas Senate on such issues as banning assault weapons, protecting women’s rights, and higher education, and has been for more than two decades,” Bell said.
“I am honored today to endorse Senator Royce West in the Democratic Primary runoff election for United States Senate,” Cooper said.
Among the reasons Cooper cited as endorsing West was his strong work on education and higher education issues, criminal justice reforms, and voting rights issues.
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez has endorsed Royce West over MJ Hegar in the Democratic primary runoff to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, just under a week after Tzintzún Ramirez finished a close third in the crowded primary.
“On every single issue that I care about as a progressive, it is clear to me that he is the stronger choice, and I will do everything I can to help him get elected,” she said during a news conference with West on Monday afternoon in Austin. She added that West is also the better choice to “build a multiracial coalition that speaks to the diversity of this state.”
Tzintzún Ramirez narrowly missed the runoff Tuesday, getting 13.2% of the vote. West, the Dallas state senator, got 14.5% of the vote, and Hegar came in first with 22%.
West told reporters he also expected to win the support of two other former rivals, Chris Bell and Michael Cooper, in the coming days. Bell finished sixth Tuesday, with 8.5% of the vote, while Cooper came in eighth, with 5%.
As for Tzintzún Ramirez's support, West called it “historic from a standpoint of a true relationship that will bring Latinos and African Americans further together, as well as Anglos and others.”
Tzintzún Ramirez, a longtime organizer, ran as one of the most progressive candidates in the 12-way primary. She had the backing of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, as well as U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio.
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