A Texas state GOP lawmaker suggested his primary opponents are running because they’re “Asian.”
State Rep. D.F. “Rick” Miller, who represents Fort Bend County, said one of his opponents, Jacey Jetton, is running to get “an Asian to win” the district, adding that he thought Jetton’s reasoning was “kind of racist.” Jetton is a former chairman of the Fort Bend GOP.
“He has decided because, because he is an Asian that my district might need an Asian to win,” he told The Houston Chronicle. “And that’s kind of racist in my mind, but anyway, that’s not necessary, at least not yet.”
Miller added that another Republican candidate, Houston Fire Department analyst Leonard Chan, “jumped in probably for the same reason.”
“I don’t know, I never met the guy,” he told the Chronicle. “I have no idea who he is. He has not been around Republican channels at all, but he’s an Asian.”
Miller backtracked on his comments on Monday, saying to the Chronicle that “people should be voting for the right candidate or the candidate most qualified to win the election, and that’s my key point. I don’t know why they’re running. If that’s why they’re running, then good.”
The state representative has not faced primary opposition since 2012, and the other candidates say his comments exemplify how the district needs a new GOP leader, according to the Chronicle.
Jetton, a seventh-generation Texan, told the Chronicle his run “has nothing to do with whether I’m part Korean or anything else.”
“I think it’s unfortunate he’s trying to make it a race thing when it’s really just being willing to communicate with anyone in the district,” Jetton said.
Meanwhile, Chan told The Hill that he was surprised by Miller’s remarks because he thought candidates should be considered based on “their own merits” and not identity politics. He added that his family has been in the area since 1988.
The Hill also reached out to Miller’s campaign for comment.
The demographics of the county include 35 percent white residents, 24 percent Hispanic, 21 percent Asian or other and 20 percent black, the Chronicle reported, citing data from the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.
Four Democrats have also filed to run in the general election against the GOP nominee.
Updated at 1 p.m.