Vincent T. Davis
Democrats fired back Saturday after the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Bexar County denounced the coronavirus as a hoax at a rally outside City Hall.
The chairwoman, Cynthia Brehm, told several supporters Friday that the coronavirus was a hoax perpetrated by the Democratic Party. Democrats quickly responded by issuing a statement that said Texas Republicans were downplaying the threat from the virus and had mismanaged the health crisis.
Furthermore, they linked Brehm’s attitude concerning the virus to that of the state’s leadership: Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, both Republicans.
“From top to bottom, Texas Republican leaders continue to downplay and mismanage the coronavirus crisis. Texans continue to suffer because of their lack of leadership,” the Texas Democratic Party responded in its Saturday statement.
In a video clip from KENS-5 TV that was widely disseminated on social media, Brehm rejected Mayor Ron Nirenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolff’s call to wear protective masks. She cites Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, calling the policy unconstitutional.
“This is America,” she said, “and we shouldn’t have to be forced or mandated to wear a mask.”
In a reply to Brehm’s charge, Judge Wolff said: “Let me say it to you this way. It was about 2½ years ago, maybe three, I was talking to my late, great friend Commissioner Paul Elizondo. Paul said ‘we’ve got to run for re-election again.’ And I said ‘Paul, why would we want to do that? You know, we’re getting a little bit older.’ And he said ‘Well, there’s too (expletive) many crazy people running for office.’ This is a good example.”
By Saturday afternoon, the video had more than 18,000 likes on Twitter and 106 shares on Facebook.
“Why is this happening today?” Brehm is heard to ask. “I’ll tell you why — all of this has been promulgated by the Democrats to undo all of the good that President Trump has done for our country, and they are worried.”
“So, take off your masks, exercise your constitutional rights. Stand up, speak up, and vote Republican.”
On ExpressNews.com: Brehm demands county cut successful program
In an email, Brehm said the group held the news conference to speak out against its constitutional rights being violated. She said that under the mayor and county judge’s edict, she has had to wear a mask when shopping for groceries.
Brehm said she hopes in the future that Nirenberg and Wolff will stop imposing edicts on people and will cooperate with Abbott to get Bexar County back to work.
“Many small businesses have closed, and their employees are now unemployed,” she said. “Telling people to stay quarantined until June when the governor is trying to get us up and running is not helping. It’s hindering it.”
After her speech, Brehm hugged Douglas “D.B.” Stearns, who was the next speaker at the rally.
Stearns, too, downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic. He said people have a 0.05 chance of catching the “Wuhan flu.”
Brehm is in a runoff against John Austin, a real estate appraiser, for her position at the top of the county Republican Party. The runoff election is July 14.
In a text, Austin said that as a country, people have pulled together and protected the health system by flattening the curve.
“I support protecting our most vulnerable citizens by following the president’s policies for social distancing and the wearing of masks when necessary,” he said. “I think President Trump and Gov. Abbott are doing the best they can to fight this disease and open the economy.”
On ExpressNews.com: Losing Democratic hopeful, Republican runoff candidate criticizes San Antonio elections
“Brehm’s comments are just the next iteration in a long line of Republicans not taking the coronavirus seriously,” he said.
Vincent T. Davis is a reporter in the Greater San Antonio and Bexar County area. To read more from Vincent, become a subscriber. firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @vincentdavis