Fred Hartman

It’s anyone’s guess how the District 22 race for Congress will turn out between Republican Troy Nehls and Democrat Sri Kulkarni.

The Democrats are desperately hoping to turn the Republican seat blue as U.S. Rep. Pete Olson retires. And they’ve been pouring money into the race through Kulkarni’s campaign and Super PACs.

That’s given Kulkarni a big financial advantage after Nehls won a bruising Republican primary and runoff earlier this year. It would seem Nehls is banking on President Trump’s coattails.

Kulkarni got within 5% of Olson when he ran against him in 2018, but this time he won’t have Beto O’Rourke’s coattails to ride on. Instead, he’ll have Joe Biden’s, and Biden is running at least 5% behind Trump in the latest Texas polls.

But give Kulkarni and his campaign credit for hustling. He’s running commercials and blanketing media outlets with press releases, even if they often take liberty with the facts.

One Kulkarni press release referenced an interview he did Oct. 11 on Fox 26 where he said Republicans “are doing everything they can to take away pre-existing conditions (for health insurance coverage) and voters are smarter than that.”

But that’s false, and Kulkarni should be called out for using such a scare tactic. Republicans, especially Trump, have long opposed Obamacare, but they repeatedly say they would never do away with covering pre-existing conditions even if the Affordable Care Act is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kulkarni is a big advocate of Obamacare, but fails to mention how disastrous it’s been for so many people with private insurance as they’ve faced skyrocketing premiums and deductibles.

Lest we not forget the big lie President Obama told before the ACA was passed with all Democratic votes: “If you like your doctor, you’re going to be able to keep your doctor.” Not so much for everyone.

Kulkarni also sent the media information indicating Nehls said wearing a mask for COVID-19 prevention is communist and un-American. Also not true.

What Nehls specifically said in April was Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s order to levy fines and potential jail time for citizens who don’t wear masks was “unnecessary, unconstitutional and un-American.”

Nehls said he encouraged people to wear masks in his role as Fort Bend County sheriff, but thought Hidalgo’s order sounded more like something in a communist dictatorship than a free republic.

It was an over-the-top statement to make about someone who was trying to protect public health. That may have sounded good for Republican primary voters, but it opened Nehls up to the demagoguery of Kulkarni’s campaign.

Kulkarni shows we can’t always take politicians’ words at face value. Because, if we do, we may be manipulated and not get the entire story.

MASKED IRONY: There are all kinds of examples about how facial coverings aren’t the be-all, end-all for not getting COVID-19, but I look at masks as a tool to help our odds and a courtesy to other people.

It’s a good idea to wear masks inside commercial establishments and when we’re in a situation where we can’t social distance from others.

I mostly wear a N95 mask because they’re more effective, but sometimes wear a blue surgical masks if I don’t have the N95. Unfortunately, the one thing both masks have in common with the virus is that they say “Made in China.”

Reach Fred Hartman at

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