Gina Ortiz Jones, a lesbian, Iraq War veteran, and first-generation Filipina-American, is running for United States Congress in Texas.
That’s only part of her amazing story.
Before deciding to run for Congress, she worked under President Donald Trump, the third president she’s served. First it was George W. Bush, under whom she fought in the Iraq War with the Air Force. Then it was Barack Obama, when she served as an intelligence officer.
Jones remained in her job as a director in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative when Trump assumed office. She stayed there until June, when she decided enough was enough.
‘I’m going to have to serve in a different way’
Jones is running for a US House seat in Texas’ 23rd district.
If she wins, it will be historic for several reasons. She’ll be the first lesbian, Iraq War vet, and first-generation Filipina-American to hold such a seat in Texas. Plus, a woman has never represented this district.
Jones’ reservations about Trump began early on, with policy changes and administration hires.
‘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.’
She views her running as a fundamentally different way to look at Congress.
‘Folks in Congress, they do three things. They create opportunities, they protect opportunities and they erase opportunities. That’s how we have to be thinking about this very plainly.’
An uphill battle
Running as a Democrat in the red state of Texas is always an uphill battle. Jones’ journey isn’t an exception.
Before trying to unseat incumbent Will Hurd, a Republican, she has to win the Democratic primary against three other contenders on 6 March.
It gets more difficult from there. Hurd is well-known and well-financed. As of 30 September, his campaign had a little over $870,000 on hand. Jones only had $73,681.
Still, there are people supporting Jones’ fight.
Victory Fund, a political group supporting LGBTQ politicians, and VoteVets are behind her. So is former Texas Democratic state senator Wendy Davis.
Plus, Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who delivered a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention last year, also endorsed Jones in a video.
Jones is ready to fight and not play political games.
When Hurd live-streamed a 1,600 mile road trip with Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, this is what Jones said: ‘When bipartisanship means two dudes get in a car and help each other get elected, we’re all fucking screwed.’