SAN ANTONIO (CN) – Gina Ortiz Jones, the former Air Force intelligence officer who nearly flipped Republican Congressman Will Hurd’s massive border district in last year’s midterms, announced Tuesday that she raised more than $1 million in donations in the first 98 days of her 2020 campaign.
A former intelligence analyst in the Obama administration, Jones became the first high-profile 2020 candidate to challenge Hurd, who announced his retirement earlier this month rather than seek re-election in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, one of the state’s few swing districts.
Jones, who at one point pulled ahead of Hurd in a dramatic overnight turn of events on election night 2018, eventually fell just 926 votes short of flipping the district, which wraps around western San Antonio and stretches to the edge of El Paso.
“I’m honored by the groundswell of support we’ve received and together we’re building a grassroots campaign to stand up to the corporate special interests and bring commonsense priorities like quality, affordable health care and lower prescription drug costs to Washington, D.C.,” Jones said Tuesday. “As the daughter of a single mom and a first-generation American, I firmly believe it’s time for hardworking Texas families to have a seat at the table in Congress and that’s who I’ll always serve.”
Buoyed by endorsements from organizations such as Emily’s List, End Citizens United and LGBTQ Victory Fund, Ortiz’s campaign said at the end of the past fundraising quarter that the San Antonio Democrat and Iraq War veteran pulled in over half a million dollars in contributions in just 48 days of campaigning, a pace that outraised Hurd.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had already targeted Hurd’s district as one of six House seats in Texas they hope to flip in 2020, an effort that saw a considerable boost with Hurd’s retirement announcement.
Hurd, a former CIA agent and the only black Republican in the House, has narrowly overcome well-funded challenges since winning election in 2014. That year, he unseated Democratic incumbent Pete Gallego, who also launched a failed bid against Hurd in 2016.
Jones, 38, a Filipina-American, joins a growing list of Texas Democrats running 2020 campaigns after narrowly losing to Republican incumbents, most notably presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke and MJ Hegar, the Air Force combat veteran challenging U.S. Senator John Cornyn in a race that has attracted other prominent Democrats including state Senator Royce West and former Congressman Chris Bell.