A leading Democratic candidate in a closely watched House race brushed off looting and arson that occurred during nationwide unrest during protests about racism and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd.

“What the hell you got snipers on the roof for in a peaceful march? Even if people loot, so what? Burn it to the ground, you know, if that’s what it’s going to take to fix our nation,” retired Air Force Col. Kim Olson said during a live digital event on Tuesday, shown in a clip obtained by the Washington Examiner.

“I don’t think people want me to say that,” added Olson, a Democratic candidate in Texas’s 24th Congressional District, which covers much of the suburban area in between Fort Worth and Dallas.

Olson, 62, made the comment during a several-minute answer to a question about what she thought about far-left calls to disband or defund police departments.

Olson started by saying that while “defunding” is a “tough word,” explaining that she supports prioritizing funding services such as rehab centers and social workers.

“You can’t just tackle the police, you’ve got to tackle some of the social injustice issues that are going on within our justice system,” Olson said. “You can’t train racism out of folks.”

She criticized highly militarized police forces, leading into the criticism of snipers on the roof during a recent march in Dallas and then making the comment about looting and riots.

“This quote is being taken out of context,” Rachel Perry, Olson’s campaign manager, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner on Wednesday. “As a combat vet, Colonel Olson knows first hand the human heartbreak of violence. She knows we cannot use force to fix a systemic problem of undue violence and discrimination perpetrated by those who are sworn to protect and serve. We have to rebuild from the ground up a color-blind public safety institution across America.”

Texas’s 24th District will be an open seat in the November election since current Republican Rep. Kenny Marchant, who won reelection by about 3 points in 2018, is retiring at the end of his term.

The race is one of several dozen closely watched House seats this election cycle with the potential to flip from Republican to Democratic control. Cook Political Report rates the race as a “Republican toss up.” Politico also calls it a toss-up.

Olson is the front-runner in the primary for the Democratic nomination but must defeat educator and school board trustee Candace Valenzuela in a runoff election on July 14.

The winner will face former Irving, Texas, Mayor Beth Van Duyne, who easily won her Republican primary contest earlier this year, in the general election.

The decision on whether to support Olson or Valenzuela in the Democratic runoff is a contentious issue among national Democratic operatives and lawmakers. Minority lawmakers have urged the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to support Valenzuela, who is Latina and African American and comes from humble upbringings, but the DCCC declined to do so.

Olson unsuccessfully ran to be Texas’s agriculture commissioner in 2018, losing to Republican incumbent Sid Miller by about 5 points.

Her military career is a highlight of her resume — she was one of the first women to attend and graduate from military flight school — but it is also a potential liability. In the early 2000s, when she was stationed in Iraq, the Pentagon accused Olson of directing contracts to a private security firm that she helped operate. While Olson denies personally profiting from the arrangement, she pleaded guilty to charges that included creating the appearance of a conflict of interest, paid a $3,500 fine, and was permitted to retire with an honorable discharge. That history has not been a major issue in her campaigns or line of attack from her opponents.

Author: Emily Larsen

Source: Washington Examiner: Democratic House candidate Kim Olson: ‘If people loot, so what? Burn it to the ground’

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