A former top Texas judge says she has left the Republican Party over President Trump, after his racist tweet telling four congresswomen to “go back” to where they came from.
Elsa Alcala joins a small group of conservatives alienated by Trump’s remarks as most of the Republican Party sticks with the president — including through his latest attacks on Democratic representatives of color, three of whom were born in the United States.
“Even accepting that Trump has had some successes (and I believe these are few), at his core, his ideology is racism,” the 55-year-old retired judge wrote Monday in a Facebook post. “To me, nothing positive about him could absolve him of his rotten core.”
Alcala, who served for 20 years as a judge and was appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry to Texas’s criminal appeals court, left her longtime party, in part, because of Trump’s latest tweets, which have been decried by U.S. lawmakers and world leaders, she told the Austin American-Statesman. Continued support from other Republicans for the president turned her away as well.
But her discomfort with her old party had been building for a while, she said. She delayed saying so publicly to avoid wading into a “hot button” issue.
“Every day with the Republican Party seemed worse than the day before,” Alcala told the Statesman. “Trump speaks about brown people like me as lesser beings. It’s cliche to say, but the Republican Party left me.”
The chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, James Dickey, thanked Alcala for her service in a statement, saying his organization is “sorry that [Alcala] has chosen to no longer support the party that supported her, her colleagues and her successors.”
Alcala declined to comment to The Washington Post.
She was one of two Latinas recently serving on Texas’s highest courts, according to the Statesman. Alcala left the state appeals court last year after deciding not to run for reelection. She used her prominent voice to question the use of the death penalty, and her retirement left the court “without its most outspoken judge and biggest critic of the current criminal justice system,” the Texas Tribune wrote.
Before his Sunday tweets tapping into a long history of immigrants and minorities being told to “go back” to where they came from, Trump had been rebuked for — among other statements — questioning President Barack Obama’s birth in the United States without evidence and saying a federal judge could not deal impartially with a case involving Trump because of his ethnicity.
Trump’s behavior has tested some Republicans’ allegiance. Announcing earlier this month that he was leaving the GOP to become an independent, Rep. Justin Amash did not mention the president while explaining that he has “become disenchanted with party politics,” but the Michigan congressman had been one of Trump’s most vocal GOP critics. Amash was the first Republican in Congress to say that the president had committed “impeachable conduct.”
Amash, too, was dismayed by Trump’s “go back” comments, calling them “racist and disgusting” on Twitter.
But other members of the president’s party have become less critical of his most questionable statements. The overwhelming majority of House Republicans voted Tuesday against a resolution to condemn Trump’s remarks toward the Democratic congresswomen. Only four GOP representatives supported the measure, while six others did not vote.
By The Post’s last count, 89 Republican members of Congress had spoken on the tweets. Eighteen condemned Trump’s words, while 42 criticized both Democrats and Trump. Another 161 dodged the topic or haven’t given an opinion, and 29 focused their criticism on the other party or defended Trump, saying he is not racist.
Alcala told the Statesman that she had hoped state Republican politics would be better than her party’s dynamics at the national level but that she found Texas to be “more of the same.” The former judge will be voting in a Democratic primary for the first time in more than 20 years, she wrote in her Facebook post, which she has not made public.
"Any of the viable Democratic presidential candidates” would be an improvement over Trump, she wrote.