Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call(DALLAS) — If Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones comes out on top in the race against incumbent Republican Will Hurd in Texas, she will be the first Filipina-American candidate.
Running in the state’s 23rd congressional district, which runs along the border with Mexico, means immigration and security are some of the top issues for voters. Her experiences as the child of an immigrant and her service as an intelligence officer in the Air Force have shaped her opinions and she hopes that resonates with voters.
“When I… go to border towns, you can’t just talk about that city without talking about the sister city on the other side. These are places that, frankly…the border separates them, but for many purposes, these are essentially almost one community,” she told Teen Vogue earlier this year.
Ortiz Jones was one of at least 50 women who ran for office in Texas this year. The openly-gay, Iraq War veteran told ABC News that nobody should be surprised by the increase in female candidates this year.
“They have stepped up and said, ‘You know what? I'm done assuming somebody is going to do for me that which I can do for myself',” Ortiz Jones said.
She worked for the Trump administration as a director in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, but left that position, and decided to run as a Democrat after watching the president’s actions she viewed as harmful to women and minority groups.
“The type of people that were brought in to be public servants were interested in neither the public nor the service,” she said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “That, to me, was a sign that I’m going to have to serve in a different way.”
The fight over the district has been particularly fierce because voters swing between Republican and Democratic representation. Though Hurd was reelected in 2016, the district voters also favored Hillary Clinton over President Donald Trump.
Ortiz Jones has raised more than $2 million in the third quarter, largely comprised of individual contributions. Hurd raised just over $1 million.
Despite national attention, recent polls from the New York Times Upshot and Siena College show Hurd with a strong double-digit lead. FiveThirtyEight forecasts Ortiz-Jones with only a one in nine chance at flipping the seat.
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