Gina Ortiz Jones won the Democratic nomination for a Texas U.S. House seat on Tuesday, advancing in her bid to make history on several fronts.
The former Air Force intelligence officer defeated fellow Democrat Rick Trevino in a runoff after the two were the top finishers in a five-candidate March primary.
If she wins in November, Ortiz Jones will be the first lesbian, first Iraq War veteran and first Filipina-American to represent Texas in Congress.
The 37-year-old is up against Republican Rep. Will Hurd, 40, in November, and she faces a tough task. The two-term incumbent has a lot more money, and Texas’ 23rd Congressional District leans Republican.
But the district has flip-flopped between Democratic and GOP representation in recent years, with nobody holding it for more than two terms since 2007. Hurd won his first term in 2014 by about 2,400 votes against Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego. In a rematch in 2016, Hurd won by about 3,000 votes.
Ortiz Jones also benefits from Democrats generally being energized and flooding to the polls in response to Donald Trump’s presidency. In the March primary, more than 44,000 voters cast ballots in Ortiz Jones’ race, compared to about 31,000 voters in Hurd’s race.
She told HuffPost in January that she decided to run for office out of frustration with Trump. A career civil servant after her military stint, Ortiz Jones worked under presidents in both parties and said she thought she could continue her service under the Trump administration. She ended up being horrified by his policies and the people he hired for top jobs.
“The type of people that were brought in to be public servants were interested in neither the public nor the service,” she said. “That, to me, was a sign that I’m going to have to serve in a different way.”