Democratic candidate for state legislature denounces Trump tweets as racist

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Verhey

ELLENSBURG — Steve Verhey, Democratic challenger for the 13th Legislative District seat currently held by Rep. Alex Ybarra, R-Quincy, condemned President Donald Trump’s call for four congresswomen to “go back” to the countries from which they came.

The attacks came in a series of tweets Sunday, in which the president criticized New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar for “telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run…”

Of the four congresswomen, three were born in the United States. Omar, the lone exception, came to the U.S. from Somalia when she was 10 and became a citizen when she was 17. The president’s comments have been widely condemned by Democrats as racist, stating that the comments played into a racial trope that people of color should “go back to where they came from.”

“Practically everyone in the 13th Legislative District is an immigrant, or a first-, second-, or third-generation descendant of an immigrant, just like the Congresswomen Trump has attacked, and practically everyone disagrees with the President on one thing or another,” Verhey wrote. “Does he want us all to go back?”

Some Republicans have also called the president’s comments problematic, though most stopped short of labeling them racist. In a statement Tuesday, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA, called the comments “wrong.”

In the press release, Verhey challenged his opponent to respond to the tweets.

“It only seems reasonable that everyone who wants to serve as a representative for the people should take a public stand on this issue, and that’s what I’m doing,” Verhey wrote.

Ybarra, for his part, declined to respond specifically to the president’s statements, saying that addressing the comments are a matter for federal politicians and that he “didn’t know exactly what the situation is or what the comments were.”

Instead, Ybarra highlighted his record supporting racial parity, both on the Commission on Hispanic Affairs, where Ybarra has worked to develop and deliver public policy with consideration to Hispanic communities, and on the Education Opportunity Gap Oversight Accountability Committee.

“I’ve got a body of work that I’ve been working on for a lot of years, and it shows that I’m working on this issue as well,” Ybarra said.

Emry Dinman can be reached via email at edinman@columbiabasinherald.com.

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