Republican Senator Ted Cruz has released an election ad featuring a divisive police sheriff who publicly threatened violence against trans women.
The Dallas Observer notes that Cruz’s latest attack, which took aim at his Democrat rival Beto O’Rourke’s efforts to tackle institutional racism within the police force, featured Denton Country Sheriff Tracy Murphree decrying the Democrat’s “war on police officers.”
Cruz, a darling of the hardline evangelical wing of the Republican Party, is facing a tougher-than-expected challenge for his Texas Senate seat in November’s midterms, thanks to resurgent challenger O’Rourke.
As Politico reported, the Republicans have put a large amount of funding behind Cruz’s campaign to see off the close-run challenge—but the TV ad released by his campaign this week is getting attention for the wrong reasons.
Murphee’s past comments
The sheriff has a history of shocking anti-LGBT extremism.
In 2016, he faced anger when he wrote in a Facebook post: “This whole bathroom thing is craziness I have never seen. All I can say is this.
“If my little girl is in a public women’s restroom and a man, regardless of how he may identify goes into that bathroom. He will then identify as John Doe until he wakes up in what ever hospital he may be taken to.
“Your identify does not trump my little girls [sic] safety.”
Murphee later claimed he regretted the post after the mother of a local transgender child spoke out, but he refused to meet with an LGBT+ group and apologise for his comments.
Explaining why he was refusing to meet with Equality Texas, he said: “I feel I have made my position clear that I am not targeting transgenders but concerned about predators taking advantage of the policies. I really have nothing else to add.”
The Cruz campaign did not comment on the ad, or on Murphree’s violent threats.
Cruz’s anti-LGBT record
Cruz is one of the strongest voices against LGBT+ equality in the Senate.
He has strongly backed new anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ laws allowing religious people to discriminate against married gay couples and trans people, and has also claimed transgender people are a threat to his daughters.
Senator Cruz shared the stage with extremist pastor Kevin Swanson at a religious rally in 2015, where Swanson called for the death penalty for homosexuals.
Cruz ducked calls to condemn Swanson for months, before he finally admitted attending the rally was a mistake.
The Senator’s father, Rafael Cruz, is a noted anti-LGBT pastor.
At a political rally in June, the pastor ranted about same-sex marriage, comparing it to marriage between “marriage between two men and a horse.”
He claimed: “That decision of the Supreme Court on June 26 of 2015, where they said that God got it wrong and marriage was not just between one man and a woman, it could be between two men and a horse.
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“But basically, that decision was much more than same-sex marriage, it was, at the heart of it, the destruction, or the attempt to destroy, the traditional family.”
LGBT+ groups are backing O’Rourke in the race, including the Human Rights Campaign.
HRC President Chad Griffin said: “The choice for Texas voters this November could not be starker.
“While Ted Cruz has spent his career undermining the rights of LGBTQ people for his own cynical, political gain, Beto O’Rourke is a proven champion of equality who will defend the rights of all Texans.
“That’s why HRC is proud to endorse Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy for the United States Senate.
“Now more than ever, it is crucial we have elected officials such as O’Rourke pushing back against the Trump-Pence agenda in Washington and fighting for the rights of all their constituents back home, including those who are LGBTQ.
“By electing Beto O’Rourke and defeating the anti-equality Ted Cruz, we can not only pull the emergency brake on this administration’s hate-fueled agenda, but send a message that the days of attacking LGBTQ people for political gain are over.”
O’Rourke said: “Our campaign is proud to have the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign and its thousands of advocates for LGBTQ equality across Texas.
“Together, we will work to ensure our state finally has a voice in the Senate who is committed to passing the Equality Act, standing up to discriminatory and dangerous measures like SB6, supporting transgender troops serving our country across the globe, ensuring a caring same-sex couples can open their home to one of Texas’ 30,000 children in foster care and continuing the daily fight for equal justice under law in this country.”