Congressional Candidate Wendy Carrillo On Why She Stood Up To David Duke On Twitter

She’s hoping to become the first formerly undocumented woman in Congress.

Wendy Carrillo is one of the two dozen candidates in California vying for the opportunity to represent the state’s 34th Congressional District in a special election Tuesday.

Democrat Xavier Becerra vacated his seat when he became the state’s attorney general in January. Carrillo is hoping to win the spot, and will possibly become the first formerly undocumented woman in Congress.

In a recent interview with Jezebel about her campaign, Carrillo discussed the normalization of hate since Donald Trump became president and offered David Duke’s Twitter attacks on her campaign as proof.

“The part that’s new about it is that it is now normalized,” she told Jezebel. “It is normalized racism, it is normalized hatred towards communities of color and towards immigrants. Before, you would see it in places like Arizona with Sheriff [Joe] Arpaio and the immigrant community there, and in other pockets around the country. But now it is entirely across the country and people feel emboldened to attack immigrants and people of color.”

Carillo was born in El Salvador during the civil war and her family fled to Southern California to escape the violence that killed her biological father. Eventually, she obtained legal status as a teen through her stepfather.

The Latina, who is running on a platform that aims to protect hardworking immigrants and Dreamers, was singled out by Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, in March. He subtweeted Carrillo’s campaign video and wrote that she “plays the part of a ‘person of color’ masterfully.” 

Duke didn’t stop there. He continued to tweet at Carrillo to mock her references to “Latino victory” and the portion of her campaign video that features people raising their fists. 

The Latina defended herself and the campaign from Duke on Twitter, and she discussed the incident with Jezebel.

“I personally have been attacked because of my story by David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the KKK, on social media,” she said. “And with that brings all the hatred and all the misogyny and all the racist anti-immigrant, anti-undocumented people, anti-women rhetoric on social media by the alt-right.”

“I knew that that would eventually happen because my campaign and my story is incredibly unique, especially running for office,” she continued. “It just becomes a completely different thing when you see it and when you experience it and you have to have conversations with your team about safety.”

Shortly after her Twitter exchange with Duke, Carrillo told We are mitú she responded as a way to fight back against the normalization of hate.

“I am sick and tired of politicians who claim to represent us but do not stand up as racism and misogyny is normalized in our country,” Carrillo said. “I refuse to sit quietly on the sidelines. David Duke is a Breitbart-reading, white-supremacy-preaching, ‘former’ Grand Wizard of the KKK who attacked me for telling my story as a formerly undocumented person and unrecognized refugee. So I called him out, and I did so unapologetically.”