On Tuesday, Texas was the first state to hold primary races in preparation for the November 2018 midterm elections. For the first time in 25 years, Democrats are running in all 36 of Texas’s congressional districts.
This year, 50 women, 37 of them Democrats, filed to run for office in Texas, up from only 18 who filed in 2016. In total, a record 25 Democratic women won their primaries or will advance to a runoff election. Today, only 3 of Texas’s 36 congressional districts are represented by women.
Judge Veronica Escobar and State Senator Sylvia Garcia both won their primaries in heavily Democratic districts, positioning them to become the first two Latina politicians elected to Congress from Texas.
Because Texas requires primary candidates to win a majority of votes to advance to the general election, there are many U.S. House districts that will hold run-off elections on May 22 to determine a winner from the two candidates who earned the most votes yesterday.
One of the most exciting candidates headed to a run-off election is Gina Ortiz Jones, who is running to represent the 23rd district, which stretches from San Antonio along the US-Mexico border to El Paso. She earned more than double the votes of her primary competitors, and if she wins the run-off, she will go up against Republican incumbent Will Hurd in a district that is considered one of the only swing-seats in the state. If elected, she will be the first openly gay person from Texas to serve in the House of Representatives.
Texas is just one of many states that have seen a surge in women running for office since the election of Donald Trump. Emily’s List says that in the ten months before the 2016 elections, about 1,000 women had contacted the organization interested in running for office. Since Trump’s election, that number has jumped to over 26,000.
“The Women’s Marches one year ago led to the largest number of new candidates, especially women, running for political office, as well as unprecedented victories for feminists in the 2017 state and local elections,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “Today, a record number of women are running for Congress, state legislatures, and state-wide offices and we intend to win. We are going to send a pink wave through Congress and the states.”
The difficulty of progressive candidates competing for seats in Texas stems from the state’s heavily gerrymandered congressional map. Last year, a panel of federal judges ruled that Texas’s congressional map was unconstitutional and discriminated against minority voters. The case is currently pending before the Supreme Court, and the Texas legislature could be forced to redraw district lines before the 2018 elections.
Media Resources: CNN 3/7/18; Business Insider 3/18; Vox 3/5/18;