Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Gina Ortiz Jones

We have our first declared challenger in CD23.

Gina Ortiz Jones

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, is getting his first major Democratic challenger for re-election in Texas’ swing 23rd congressional district.

Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer, is entering the race Wednesday, wading into a potentially crowded primary field for a shot at Hurd, who is widely viewed as the most vulnerable Republican member of Congress from Texas.

Jones said she was inspired to come home to San Antonio and run for Congress after witnessing up close the opening months of Donald Trump’s presidency as a staffer in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which operates from within the Executive Office of the President.

“These policies were directly threatening the opportunities” I had growing up, said Jones, a first-generation American. “To me, it was quite clear that I needed to serve my country and my community in a different way.”

A graduate of John Jay High School in San Antonio, Jones attended Boston University on a ROTC scholarship and served in the Air Force from 2003-2006, deploying to Iraq. After a stint in the private sector, she went to work for the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency in 2008, ultimately becoming a special adviser to the deputy director. In November, she moved to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where she worked until June.


Although Jones is the first major Democrat to launch a challenge against Hurd for 2018, at least three others are considering a run. They include Judy Canales, a former Obama and Clinton appointee; Jay Hulings, a federal prosecutor from San Antonio; and former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, the Alpine Democrat who represented the district from 2013-2015 and unsuccessfully challenged Hurd last year.

You can find a brief bio of Gina Ortiz Jones here; scroll down a bit. I received a press release with a much longer bio after I did my initial draft of this post, so it’s beneath the fold. Her campaign website is here and her campaign Facebook page is here; both are still bare bones, but one presumes that will change shortly.

As for other candidates, Pete Gallego has said he is seriously considering running again, but has yet to take the plunge. Canales and Hulings, I have heard nothing about, and no one has done any fundraising yet. Which is not that big a deal, as there will be plenty of national support for this race, but sooner is always better than later.

Like many other Democrats jumping into these races, Jones looks impressive, and is also younger than I am, which Lord knows we could use more of. She joins MJ Hegar as a veteran who is now a candidate. This could be a very interesting primary, as Gallego (of whom I am very fond) tends to lean towards the centrist side of things. Regardless, I don’t know how you can look at the large and growing crop of solid candidates we have running and not get excited by them.

Gina Ortiz Jones, a U.S. Air Force Veteran and national security expert, announced today that she is running for Congress in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, a seat that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso and encompasses the largest shared border with Mexico of any Congressional District.

“My mom came to this country, because she wanted a chance at the American Dream. I’m running to make sure everyone gets the opportunities that I have had. I’ve seen from my work representing U.S. interests around the world what happens when people don’t get the opportunity to succeed. Our national security starts at home, and it starts with the opportunities that allow for our most vulnerable to become our most promising,” said Jones. “I know first-hand what it is like to live in subsidized housing and rely on reduced lunch as a kid, and I believe this perspective, as well as my career – both in uniform on the frontlines and at the forefront of national security – give me the experience and understanding to lead on national security issues and uniquely serve my District.”

Jones was raised by a single mother, who came to the United States from the Philippines as a domestic helper after having already earned her graduate degree. She knew the United States offered the promise of a better future and limitless opportunities. Raised in San Antonio, Jones is a graduate of John Jay High School.

Jones attended Boston University on an ROTC scholarship, and upon graduation entered the U.S. Air Force as an Intelligence Officer. She is an Iraq War Veteran where she served under the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In the 12 years following her active duty service, Jones built a career in national security, with a particular focus on defense intelligence and economic security – including advising on U.S. operations in Latin America and Africa.

During her last 16 months as a civil servant, Jones worked at the intersection of economic and national security policy. Detailed from the Intelligence Community, she served as a Senior Advisor for Trade Enforcement within President Obama’s administration. Most recently, she served as a Director for Investment at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative where she reviewed foreign investments to ensure they did not pose national security risks. Within several months of the Trump Administration taking control, Jones knew she could not be part of an administration whose flawed foreign and domestic policies were a threat to the national security she has spent her career protecting. Moreover, she could not standby as her own community was being represented by someone rubber stamping the administration’s policies. Resigning from her position, Jones returned to San Antonio where she currently resides.

“While too many Texans are struggling to get by, politicians in Washington are more concerned about partisan politics than their constituents’ safety, health, and well-being,” said Jones. “Washington needs more leaders with hard-earned experience, discipline, and a dedication to problem-solving.”

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.