U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Szeliga of Maryland has joined the chorus of Republican elected officials who are denouncing Donald Trump for accusing a judge of bias because of his Mexican heritage, calling such pronouncements “racist.”
Szeliga, the minority whip in the Maryland House of Delegates, is facing the heavily favored Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D).
Trump repeatedly has called on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel to recuse himself from presiding over lawsuits against Trump University, saying the “Mexican” judge has an “inherent conflict of interest” because of Trump’s plans to build a wall along the southern border.
Curiel was born in Indiana to parents who had immigrated to this country from Mexico.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) and former speaker Newt Gingrich are among Republicans who have criticized Trump’s remarks in recent days.
Szeliga, a Republican state delegate from Baltimore County, moved to distance herself from Trump’s comments as she tries to persuade Maryland’s strongly Democratic electorate to elect her to the Senate.
“Mr. Trump’s statement with regard to Judge Curiel is insulting to all Americans,” Szeliga posted Monday on Facebook. “My own daughter-in-law is of Mexican descent. To say that anyone’s ethnic background should disqualify them from public service of any kind – particularly a judge who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States – is, by definition, a racist statement.”
Szeliga has said she would support the Republican presidential nominee but has been critical of Trump.
Van Hollen has invoked Trump in his critiques of Szeliga.
Szeliga on Monday also announced the endorsement of R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., a conservative Democrat who was speaker of the House of Delegates from 1987 to 1993.