Former Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones won the Democratic primary for a southwest Texas congressional district Tuesday.
If she’s victorious in November’s big election, she’ll make history on multiple counts: as the first post-9/11 Iraq veteran, first lesbian and first Filipina-American to represent her state in Congress.
“I’m honored to be the first, but as I say, it’s more important that I’m not the last,” she told Military Times after Tuesday’s 68 to 32 percent win in a runoff election against opponent Rick Trevino. She now faces Republican Will Hurd, who currently holds the district’s House seat.
Jones served in the Air Force from 2003 to 2006 under “don’t ask, don’t tell” and spent 14 years working in national security after leaving the military. Her most recent civilian post was as the director for investment at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
“In and out of uniform I have served in countries where women and minorities have been targeted,” she said. “I’ve also seen what happens in countries when good people don’t step up when institutions are under attack. Those experiences have obviously shaped my desire to run at this point in time.”
Jones wasn’t the only veteran victorious in Tuesday’s Texas primaries. Purple Heart recipient Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar, a former Air Force helicopter pilot, won the Democratic runoff race for the 31st district. Dan Crenshaw, a retired Navy SEAL who lost an eye in Afghanistan, defeated his opponent in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ second district.
Elsewhere, Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and F/A-18 pilot, will also continue to the general election for the race to represent Kentucky’s sixth district in Congress.