Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the three candidates for the U.S. House District 22 race are each dishing out attacks and receiving them.

The first salvo came from Republican candidate Kathaleen Wall, who purchased an ad buy locally to run a TV ad blaming China for the coronavirus outbreak. But in a press release and on social media, Wall went after the Democratic nominee, Sri Preston Kulkarni, calling him one of the “spineless, silent Democrats who refuse to stand up to the thuggish Chinese government.”

“The days of so-called ‘diplomats’ like Sri Preston Kulkarni being allowed to remain silent against Communist China are over,” Wall said in the release.

Kulkarni responded by claiming that Wall is trying to take the message away from Washington’s lackluster response to the pandemic.

“Small businesses in TX-22 are still struggling to get by while politicians in Washington direct millions of taxpayer dollars towards their campaign donors,” Kulkarni said in a statement. “Kathaleen Wall doesn’t want to talk about any of that, which is why she’s once again following GOP leaders’ playbook and trying to distract the constituents of TX-22 from Washington Republicans’ unprepared response to the coronavirus crisis.”

Kulkarni also went after Wall’s GOP runoff opponent, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, asking him to renounce corporate money after Nehls said on Facebook “special interests know I won’t sell out and take orders from them in Congress.”

“Public servants should serve people, not powerful special interests, and Troy Nehls should back up his talk with actions by joining me in publicly swearing off any corporate PAC money,” Kulkarni said.

But one PAC decided to use its funds to target Nehls. The National Association of Gun Rights has begun to run ads locally against the sheriff and his words he made in 2016, where he said he was against having open carry allowed in certain places such as churches and courthouses.

“Troy Nehls doesn’t sound like a Texan, or a Republican,” the narrator in the NAGR ad says. “He sounds like Beto O’Rourke.”

The NAGR has already endorsed Wall in the July 14 GOP runoff against Nehls.

But Wall also has rankled some of her fellow Republicans by encouraging voters to vote by mail if they fear catching COVID-19. She also said that the Texas Secretary of State has ruled that voters’ concerns of catching the virus can be used to vote absentee.

The Secretary of State’s office informed the Wall campaign that her statement about voting by mail are “categorically false, instructed to update voters who have already been contacted, and to immediately cease further production,” a statement said.

Wall also has a mailer where she has a picture of President Trump with the words “Proudly Supports” on top.

“Kathaleen Wall misled voters on my conservative record, misled voters on vote-by-mail laws and was called out for it by the Secretary of State, and now she is misleading voters with this mail piece,” Nehls said in a Facebook post.

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