Changing demographics and a narrow escape in the 2018 elections helped persuade longtime Republican Congressman Pete Olson not to run for reelection in U.S. House District 22 this year.
The six-term incumbent’s departure sets up a showdown that mirrors the presidential race with Sri Preston Kulkarni representing the moderate approach of Democrat Joe Biden and Fort Bend County sheriff Troy Nehls aligned with the positions of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
The ballot also includes Libertarian Joseph LeBlanc who is running on the party’s platform of protecting individual rights and limiting government overreach.
Kulkarni, 41, a former foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State, made his mark two years ago by running within 5 points of Olson and establishing himself as a candidate with the intelligence and cooperative attitude necessary to build coalitions and bring people together for common goals.
That makes Kulkarni our choice in this racially diverse district, which includes most of Fort Bend County, a section of Harris County and the cities of Friendswood, Missouri City, Needville, Rosenberg, and Sugar Land.
According to census data, 64 percent of the district’s residents are white, 17 percent are Asian and 12 percent are Black. About 25 percent of people in the district identify as Hispanic or Latino. Texas 22 includes a large immigrant population from all around the world.
Kulkarni, who notes he speaks six languages, told the editorial board that he would use his 14 years of experience of diplomacy to serve the diverse community as well as reach across the aisle to Republicans.
“The key is to turn everything into a common challenge instead of a partisan issue,” he said while laying out a broad platform that includes pushing for rapid testing to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, helping small businesses to recover economically and constructing long-range plans for reducing the cost of health care.
That approach contrasts with Nehls’ focus on clamping down on illegal immigration and a law-and-order record that includes overseeing a narcotics task force accused of egregious racial profiling. Despite repeated invitations, Nehls did not meet with the editorial board.
Kulkarni is the clear choice for voters in Texas 22.