Iraq War vet wins nod to take on last-remaining Texas border GOP congressman


Gina Ortiz Jones will face off against GOP Rep. Will Hurd in a crucial Texas House race.

On Tuesday, an impressive contingent of Democratic House candidates won runoffs in Texas, including attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in the 7th District, Army veteran and tech entrepreneur Joseph Kopser in the 21st District, and NFL linebacker turned civil rights lawyer Colin Allred in the 32nd District.

But one particularly important win was Gina Ortiz Jones in the 23rd District.

Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer who worked in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative under both President Obama and Trump, would shatter a number of milestones in the Lone Star State. If she wins this fall, she will be the first Filipina-American to represent Texas, the first Iraq War veteran to represent Texas, and the first openly lesbian woman to represent Texas.

She is running on a platform of universal health care, immigration reform, and civil rights.

Texas' 23rd District is sometimes referred to as the only true swing district in the state. It stretches across most of the southwest of Texas, all the way from San Antonio to El Paso. And of all five Texas House seats along the Mexican border, it is the only one to be represented by a Republican: former CIA operative Will Hurd.

In a district that voted for Clinton by 3 points, Hurd likes to cast himself as a moderate. In reality, he votes with Trump 97 percent of the time. He has voted to block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding, even money to help prevent the spread of Zika virus. And he supported the GOP's disastrous tax scam that funneled cash to millionaires at the expense of workers.

Hurd only barely won re-election in 2016. Now, he will have to contend with the full wrath of a Democratic groundswell.

"Gina Ortiz Jones fought overseas to defend our country and expand opportunities for hardworking families, and now she's ready to continue serving as a new voice in Congress," said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY's List, congratulating her for the nomination.

Jones, like so many other women, is on the front lines to bring change to Congress. And Republican leaders should be worried.