A Republican candidate in a special election to replace the late US Representative Ron Wright, R-Arlington, faces intense backlash and has lost two of her biggest supporters after saying she doesn’t want Chinese immigrants in the United States.
Comments from Sery Kim, a Korean-American who served in the Small Business Administration under President Donald Trump, prompted California Representatives Young Kim and Michelle Steel to rescind their endorsement on Friday. Kim and Steel are the first Korean American Republican women to serve in Congress.
“We cannot conscientiously continue to support his candidacy,” lawmakers said in a statement.
However, the candidate has not apologized, arguing that she was speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party and blaming the “liberal media” for the uproar.
Sery Kim made the anti-Chinese comments earlier this week at a Republican forum in Arlington while responding to a question about immigration issues in the United States.
“I don’t want them here at all,” Kim said of potential Chinese immigrants. “They steal our intellectual property, they transmit coronavirus to us, they are not responsible.”
“And frankly, I can say that because I’m Korean,” she added.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased since the coronavirus pandemic began in China. Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the pandemic, calling the coronavirus “the Chinese virus.” Kim’s comment came less than a month after the Atlanta spa shootings that killed eight people, six of whom were of Asian descent.
The comments have drawn condemnation from groups like the DFW Asian-American Citizens Council and AAPI Progressive Action, which works to build political power among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Kim is one of 11 Republicans, and 23 candidates in all, on the May 1 ballot to fill the seat tipped to the Republican Party from Wright, who died earlier this year after being hospitalized with coronavirus.
Young Kim and Steel endorsed Sery Kim early in the race, about a week after last month’s submission deadline.
In their statement, the two lawmakers said they spoke with Sery Kim on Thursday “about his hurtful and false comments about Chinese immigrants, and made it clear that his comments were unacceptable.”
“We urge you to apologize and clarify your comments, especially as hatred against the AAPI community is on the rise,” said the congresswoman. “However, she has not publicly shown remorse, and her words were contrary to what we stand for.”
When asked for comment on the loss of endorsements, Kim provided a one-sentence statement: “I am amazed that, in an effort to counter Asian-American hatred, the liberal media is targeting me, an Asian, and a immigrant, in an effort to paint me as anti-Asian and anti-immigrant just for speaking out against the oppressive Chinese Communist Party. “
Until this week, Sery Kim was not a particularly well-known candidate in the special elections. The Republican field also includes Wright’s widow, Republican activist Susan Wright, as well as State Representative Jake Ellzey of Waxahachie.
On the Democratic side, at least one contender, Lydia Bean, rejected Sery Kim’s forum comments, saying they target people like her Chinese-American husband, Norman, and their 10-month-old son. Norman’s parents came to the United States from China in 1966, Bean said.
“This kind of speech, no matter who it comes from, puts their lives in danger,” said Bean, 2020 candidate for the Texas House of Representatives, tweeted on thursday. “It is racist and it is not what we are in Texas.”
Early voting for special elections begins April 19.