It’s extreme retail politics. The district known as Texas 23, represented by Republican Will Hurd, stretches from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso, and encompasses 800 miles of the border with Mexico. In a midterm election year that looks more progressive by the minute, Gina Ortiz Jones (CAS’03, GRS’03) believes there’s a good chance for a candidate like herself—an out Filipina woman—who might not have had a shot a few years ago. “Every vote counts,” she says. “We’re showing up in all 29 counties because everybody matters.”
No matter what happens on November 6, 2018, Jones is part of a rising tide of new candidates, activists, and behind-the-scenes strategists on the campaign trail who are upending politics as usual. Why does it matter? For starters, if you are a white male incumbent up for reelection soon, look out. Many, but not all, of these new faces lean left, energized by Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and by opposition to President Donald Trump’s agenda. Candidates with virtually no name recognition to start are using the power of social media to launch grassroots campaigns, and in just a few short months are ousting entrenched politicians who were thought to be unbeatable.