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Texas Sees a Rainbow Wave in Democratic Primary

Ana Isabel Photography

A rainbow wave may be hitting Texas.

Gina Ortiz Jones, a lesbian who narrowly lost a congressional race to Republican U.S. Rep. Will Hurd in 2018, has again won the Democratic nomination in her district — and with Hurd’s retirement, she won’t be facing an incumbent.

Meanwhile, four LGBTQ state representative candidates who aren’t incumbents won their primaries Tuesday, as did all five incumbent LGBTQ state reps. They’re all Democrats and could help flip the Texas House of Representatives to the Dems in November.

Jones, a Filipina-American and an Iraq War veteran, bested four competitors for the Democratic nomination in southwest Texas’s 23rd Congressional District, which stretches covers a broad swath of the state between San Antonio and El Paso. The Republican nomination remains up for grabs; nine candidates are vying for it.

Jones has the endorsement of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, whose president and CEO, Annise Parker, released this statement: “Texans have never sent an openly LGBTQ person to represent them in Congress, but I am confident Gina will end that come November. Gina speaks openly and eloquently about her experiences and perspectives as an LGBTQ woman, first-generation immigrant and a veteran, and that authenticity resonates with voters. Gina’s primary victory puts a crack in the lavender ceiling that has held back LGBTQ Congressional candidates in Texas for generations — and that ceiling will shatter on Election Night. We have an opportunity to double the number of openly LGBTQ members of Congress this election cycle and Gina’s primary victory makes it that much more likely.”

In races for the state House, LGBTQ nonincumbents Madeline Eden, Eric Holguin, Ann Johnson, and Eliz Markowitz won their primaries, as did incumbent LGBTQ state Reps. Julie Johnson, Erin Zwierner, Jessica González, Mary González, and Celia Israel. Holguin, Ann Johnson, and Markowitz are in swing districts that could be key pickups for Democrats this fall. Julie Johnson and Zwierner are also in swing districts, important for the Dems retain.

“Texas is witnessing a rainbow revolution, with openly LGBTQ candidates winning key swing districts that can determine the fate of the state House come November,” said Parker, a former mayor of Houston. “We remain one of the most homophobic and transphobic state legislatures in the nation, in terms of the number of anti-LGBTQ bills put forward, and the best remedy for that nonsense is to elect more LGBTQ leaders who will stand up to the bigotry and hatred. The women of the LGBTQ caucus are changing the hearts and minds of their legislative colleagues every day, but they need backup. We have the opportunity to nearly double the number of openly LGBTQ state legislators — and that would be transformative.”

Tags: Election, Texas

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