Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
John Cornyn speaks during an appearance at the conservative CPAC conference.
The two Democrats vying to oppose Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, say the three-term incumbent's recent denial that systemic racism is real shows his inability to lead as the nation struggles with deep-seated issues of race.
During a Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on police misconduct, Cornyn balked at an argument from Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department's former civil rights chief, that structural racism is part of the problem.
"You lost me when you want to take the acts of a few misguided, perhaps malicious, individuals and subscribe that to all Americans," the senator said in an exchange that made national headlines.
Both State Sen. Royce West and Air Force veteran MJ Hegar, now locked in a runoff to decide which challenges Cornyn in November, have since called out the remarks as evidence he's unfit for office.
"There are a lot of differences between John Cornyn and myself. One is that I know systemic racism exists and that it hurts black and brown people disproportionately," West said in a press release
. "As he tries for his fourth term in the Senate, let’s look at our records. John Cornyn has still not awoken to the fact that systemic racism exists in this country."
West continued: "I don’t believe I’ve ever heard John Cornyn say the phrase 'black lives matter.' Millions of Texans believe this to be true. Why can’t John Cornyn say it?"
Hegar zeroed in on Cornyn's comments via Twitter, saying he's "doubling down" on a denial that systemic racism exists.
"Texans cannot trust him to lead or offer any meaningful solutions in this moment," she said. "It's time to send him home."
Hegar also reshared a tweet from Gupta that calls out Cornyn for bestowing a legendarily corrupt cop
with a Lawman of the Year award "for a set of bogus drug convictions that my team and I ultimately overturned in Tulia, TX in 2003."
Cornyn — then Texas' attorney general – gave the award to Tom Coleman, a self-styled narcotics investigator who was later convicted of perjury. Coleman ran a racially motivated drug probe that swept up 10% of his small Panhandle town's adult Black community
"I know you're struggling to understand if systemic racism exists," Hegar tweeted to the senator, linking Gupta's comments. "Here's an example:
-A corrupt cop made racist, bogus arrests
-You gave him Lawman of the Year for it
-Which helped secure unjust convictions
had to fight to overturn
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