AUSTIN (Nexstar) – The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is having a clear impact on national politics. Now we’re getting an early look at the effect on the race for U.S. Senate in Texas.
The top five Democrats in the race to unseat incumbent Sen. John Cornyn shared the stage during a panel at last week’s Texas Tribune Festival. The first question was about the impeachment inquiry. All the candidates said they support the inquiry, a contrast to Cornyn’s criticism of what he calls “a political decision.
Chris Bell, former U.S. Representative from the Houston area, said he has been supporting impeachment before Speaker Pelosi called for it.
“I’m very disturbed by what we’re seeing coming out, and certainly when you’re locking away information about a telephone conversation that would suggest you really didn’t want people to find out about it,” Bell said.
Many of the candidates support the inquiry but want to make sure the investigation is done right, and there is evidence to support impeachment. Houston Councilwoman Amanda Edwards said as an attorney the spirit of the law must be honored.
“When you withhold information and abuse the powers of the presidency in the way that has been alleged, that is a very serious offense and one that must be seriously investigated,” Edwards said. “So, I believe (Speaker Pelosi) took the right course of action, and I’m hopeful that we will see justice do its course.”
MJ Hegar, retired Air Force officer and former candidate for U.S. House, said she doesn’t want to put political party over country. However, they see a threat to the Constitution, so she wants an investigation.
“Frankly I’m not sure anybody should be saying they would vote for impeachment or would approve that without seeing the evidence,” Hegar said. “It’s pretty clear to me what the evidence is going to say, but until I see that evidence I think we have to be careful.”
Senator Royce West asked the Tribune panel audience if they have ever seen a president like Trump before. West said Trump is trying to hijack Congress, and Senator John Cornyn isn’t doing anything about it.
“Cornyn has served on the Supreme Court here in the state of Texas,” West said. “He says nothing at all and says it’s all about politics as opposed to waiting for the facts to come out and acts upon the facts as opposed to politics.”
Senator Cornyn was in Austin earlier this week to announce $65-million dollars going to Texas A&M from the Army Futures Command. The topic of impeachment came up during questions afterwards.
“I don’t know any rational person who thinks that an impeachment inquiry will not have an impact,” Cornyn said. “I would love to believe that she is right, that it won’t have any impact on our ability to get things done, but it’s hard enough already to get things done in Washington.”
Cristina Ramirez, a Democratic senate candidate who founded Jolt, a Latino civic advocacy organization, said the debate around impeachment is about protecting American democracy.
“In my mind, the greatest threat to our democracy in 2020 does not just come from outside interference by the Russian government, but internal interference by leadership in the Republican Party that are refusing to allow a democracy that will truly represent all of us,” Ramirez said. “So that is why I support impeachment and this impeachment inquiry.”