Gina Ortiz Jones

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Gina Ortiz Jones
Gina Ortiz Jones.jpg
Personal details
Born (1981-02-01) February 1, 1981 (age 38)
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationBoston University (BA, MA)
United States Army Command and General Staff College (MMAS)
University of Kansas, Lawrence (MA)
WebsiteCampaign website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Air Force
Years of service2003–2006
RankUS Air Force O3 shoulderboard rotated.svg Captain
Battles/warsIraq War

Gina Ortiz Jones (born February 1, 1981)[1] is an American Iraq War veteran, intelligence officer, and political candidate. She was the 2018 Democratic nominee for U.S. Representative in Texas's 23rd congressional district, and was narrowly defeated by incumbent Republican Will Hurd.[2]

Raised in San Antonio, Texas, Ortiz Jones attended college on an ROTC scholarship, after which she became a United States Air Force intelligence officer and eventually reached the rank of captain.

Early life and education[edit]

Ortiz Jones grew up in Texas as the first-generation American daughter of a single mother, Victorina Ortiz, a Ilocano from Pangasinan, Philippines.[3] Her mother emigrated to the U.S. and earned a teaching certificate.[4]

Ortiz Jones attended John Jay High School,[4] serving on the student council. She earned a four-year Air Force ROTC scholarship,[5] allowing her to enroll at Boston University. In 2003,[6] she graduated with a bachelor's degree in East Asian studies and a master's degree in economics.[6] A lesbian who came out to her mother at 15, Ortiz Jones served under the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell” policy, where she was at risk of losing her ROTC scholarship if her sexual orientation became public knowledge.[7]

She later earned a master's degree in military arts and sciences at the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies of the United States Army Command and General Staff College.[4]


After graduating from college, Ortiz Jones joined the US Air Force as an intelligence officer and deployed to Iraq under the Bush administration.[8] After three years of active duty and reaching the rank of captain,[9] she returned to Texas in 2006, working for a consulting company[4] while caring for her mother, who had colon cancer (from which she eventually recovered).[5][10]

Ortiz Jones then returned to working as an intelligence analyst for US Africa Command in Germany.[4] In 2008, she joined the Defense Intelligence Agency, where she specialized in Latin American topics;[5] ultimately she became a special adviser to the deputy director. In November 2016, she moved to the Executive Office of the President (then Barack Obama) to serve under the U.S. Trade Representative. Having previously served under presidents of both parties, Ortiz Jones continued in her role during the Trump administration until June 2017, when she left her role, telling the HuffPost, "The type of people that were brought in to be public servants were interested in neither the public nor the service...That, to me, was a sign that I'm going to have to serve in a different way."[11] She returned to San Antonio to run for Congress,[12][5] living in the house where she grew up.[11]

2018 U.S. House of Representatives candidacy[edit]

In 2017, Ortiz Jones was the first Democrat to announce a challenge[12] to Republican Representative Will Hurd in Texas's predominantly Hispanic 23rd congressional district, which includes much of the border between Texas and Mexico.[13] Democrat Hillary Clinton won the district by three points in the 2016 U.S. presidential election[14] and neither party has controlled the congressional seat for more than two consecutive terms since 2007.[15]

Ortiz Jones finished first in the March 6, 2018, Democratic primary,[16] earning 41% of the vote in a field of five. Rick Treviño was second with 17.5%.[17] Because no candidate received a majority of the vote, a runoff election was held on May 22, which Ortiz Jones won.[18] In the November 6 general election, Ortiz Jones faces Hurd[19] in what has been called the most competitive congressional race in the state.[20] As of June 30, Ortiz Jones had raised $2.2 million while Hurd had raised $2.4 million in addition to the $1.5 million with which he entered the race. With four months remaining, Ortiz Jones was approaching the district's record for election fundraising by a Democrat ($2.7 million).[21]

Ortiz Jones was endorsed by EMILY's List,[22] the Asian American Action Fund, the Equality PAC,[23] VoteVets and Victory Fund, as well as Wendy Davis and Khzir Khan.[11]

Some journalists named Ortiz Jones as part of several "waves" of candidates from various backgrounds running as Democrats in 2018, including women,[14][16] LGBT people,[24][25] and military veterans.[26][27] A March 2018 Teen Vogue article noted that if elected, Ortiz Jones would be "the first openly gay woman of color from Texas elected to Congress, as well as the first Iraq War veteran to represent Texas in Congress. She'd also be the first woman to represent Texas's 23rd Congressional district."[23]

Ortiz Jones said she believed healthcare reform would play a big role in the election.[28] She and Hurd both broke fundraising records.[29][30]

Ortiz Jones lost to Hurd by 1,150 votes,[31] conceding on November 19.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Ortiz Jones has a younger sister who is in the Navy.[33] Like her mother, she identifies as a Ilocano.[3]


  1. ^ "Candidate Conversation - Gina Ortiz Jones (D)". Inside Elections. December 1, 2017. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  2. ^ Esteban Estrada, Jade (May 9, 2018). "Keeping Up with Gina Ortiz Jones, Who Wants to Unseat Congressman Will Hurd". San Antonio Current. Retrieved May 25, 2018. Within the Texas Democratic Party, Jones, 37, says she is attempting to change the conversation of “who can enter into politics and who cannot.”
  3. ^ a b Pastor, Rene. "Will Gina Ortiz-Jones become the first Filipina American in Congress? |". Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  4. ^ a b c d e Scherer, Jasper (May 10, 2018). "West Side native Gina Ortiz Jones wants to create opportunity in CD 23". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  5. ^ a b c d Malloy, Daniel (February 14, 2018). "This Lesbian Air Force Veteran is Setting Her Eyes on Congress". Ozy. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Brown, Joel (June 18, 2018). "A Different Kind of Texas Candidate". BU Today. Boston University. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  7. ^ Teeman, Tim (2018-05-24). "Woman, Lesbian, Filipina-American, Iraq Veteran: How Gina Ortiz Jones Could Make Texas Political History". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  8. ^ Ruiz-Grossman, Sarah (2018-06-28). "These Candidates Could Make History In November". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  9. ^ No One Had to Ask on YouTube
  10. ^ Rossi, Matt (December 8, 2017). "Female Veterans Lead 2018 Charge". Harvard Political Review. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Bendery, Jennifer (January 6, 2018). "She Quit Working For Trump. Now She's Running For Congress To Fight Him". Huffington Post. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Svitek, Patrick (August 2, 2017). "U.S. Rep. Will Hurd gets first major Democratic challenger for 2018". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  13. ^ "Women candidates dominated at the polls". CNN. 2018-05-25. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  14. ^ a b Alter, Charlotte (January 29, 2018). "A Year Ago, They Marched. Now a Record Number of Women Are Running for Office". Time Magazine. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  15. ^ Bendery, Jennifer (23 May 2018). "Gina Ortiz Jones Wins Democratic Runoff In Texas Congressional Race". Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  16. ^ a b Voorhees, Josh. "Democratic Women Dominated in Texas on Tuesday". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  17. ^ "Gina Ortiz Jones". Ballotpedia. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  18. ^ "Former Air Force intelligence officer wins runoff for Texas seat". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  19. ^ Johnson, Chris (2018-06-20). "Gina Ortiz Jones could be LGBT face of 2018 Dem victories". Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  20. ^ Schrerer, Jasper (June 14, 2018). "Jones challenges Hurd to six debates in 23rd Congressional District race". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  21. ^ Connolly, Griffin; Connolly, Griffin (2018-07-09). "Hurd, Democratic Challenger on Pace to Shatter Fundraising Record". Roll Call. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  22. ^ Livingston, Abby (July 9, 2018). "Emily's List gets involved in fifth Texas race for Congress". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  23. ^ a b Young, Lauren (March 5, 2018). "Gina Ortiz Jones is Running for Texas's 23rd District in March 6 Texas Primary". Teen Vogue. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  24. ^ Kuhr, Elizabeth (June 4, 2018). "Texas sees historic number of LGBTQ candidates running for office". NBC News. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  25. ^ Tumulty, Karen (2018-05-30). "Opinion | There's an election wave you probably haven't heard of yet — and it's important". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  26. ^ John, Arit (June 27, 2018). "Can a New Generation of Vets Deliver The House to the Democrats?". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  27. ^ Singer, Emily (July 11, 2018). "Female veterans are raking in major cash for their congressional bids". Mic. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  28. ^ "Texas Democrat Takes on Powerful Incumbent Hurd (Audio)". Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  29. ^ Connolly, Griffin; Connolly, Griffin (2018-07-09). "Hurd, Democratic Challenger on Pace to Shatter Fundraising Record". Roll Call. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  30. ^ "Jones reports three-month haul of $1.2 million in bid to unseat Hurd". San Antonio Express-News. 2018-07-09. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  31. ^
  32. ^ Greenwood, Max. "Ortiz Jones ends House bid against Hurd in Texas". The Hill. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  33. ^ Gustin, Marene (3 May 2018). "COVER STORY: Breaking Down Borders". OutSmart Magazine. Retrieved 28 May 2018.

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