So far this year the Comal County Democratic Party’s had the front door of its headquarters bashed in and Democrat Justin Calhoun, an openly gay man who is running for Texas House District 73, had his campaign materials destroyed and his car boxed in at a New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce candidate forum on Feb. 7.
Saturday, an anonymous vandal struck again, running over a sign planted on an easement in front of party headquarters, 1592 W. San Antonio St., New Braunfels.
A Comal Democrat speaking on condition of anonymity said it would be impossible for anyone to have left tire marks on the sign “accidentally.”
Stacey Osborne, in charge of communications with the Democratic Party, declined to comment.
On Jan. 11 a woman used a shovel to allegedly smash in the door of Comal County’s Democratic party headquarters in New Braunfels. She was identified by New Braunfels police as 38-year-old New Braunfels resident Rhonda Riedel, who was already in jail for throwing rocks at cars when police issued a warrant for her arrest in the door-smashing incident.
Comal County Democratic Party Chair Marilyn Aden said officials still don’t know if that attack was random or deliberately targeted Democrats.
Speaking earlier this month, Calhoun said he knows the actions of a few do not reflect the views of most Comal County residents but is worried about an “emerging pattern of intimidation targeting Democratic candidates and groups in rural Texas.”
Calhoun describes New Braunfels as his hometown, a place where he feels safe despite phone calls from strangers telling him to “go back to California” even though he is a ninth-generation Texan.
“To be frank, I had not felt unsafe since serving in Afghanistan,” he said. On Twitter, he said growing up gay in Texas has made him fully aware of how fear can control and silence people.
“We cannot allow them to have that power over us anymore,” he said. “Our kids, teachers, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and women deserve a Texas they can be proud of and feel safe in…This attempt to discourage other Democrats and me across the state from running will not work. We aren’t going anywhere.”
Calhoun thinks there is a growing trend towards violence and intimidation against rural Texas Democrats.
In addition to these incidents, two other candidates running to represent Comal County, one a Hispanic woman and the other an openly gay man, also have been harassed during this election cycle, he said.
According to a recent Facebook post, Comal Democratic Party Chair Marilyn Aden is contemplating the formation of a Security Committee tasked with asking volunteers to accompany candidates to campaign events.
Their assignment would be to serve as witnesses and take cellphone images if harassment occurs.