Following victories by two Latinx women in Texas primary elections Tuesday, the Lone Star State’s congressional delegation may soon begin to reflect its demographics.
Though Texas’ population is about 40% Latinx, there has never been a Latina woman from Texas elected to the US Congress. But that’s about to change after State Sen. Sylvia Garcia won the Democratic primary in Houston and former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar defeated the field of challengers in a Democratic primary in El Paso, Texas political experts say.
Both districts have traditionally elected Democratic lawmakers by wide margins, which means that whoever wins the Democratic primary typically goes on to win easily in the November general election. Garcia said she hopes her campaign will inspire Latinx residents throughout Texas.
"I wanted Latino girls and boys to to know this is a state of opportunity and it's a welcoming state," Garcia told the Texas Tribune. "You have to work hard and believe in yourself and you can do it."
In addition to being the state’s first two Latinx women in Congress, Escobar and Garcia would also become the first Texas women of any ethnicity or political party elected to a full-term in Congress since 1996.
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Over the past two decades, relatively few women have sought national office in Texas, often because they face significant challenges to fundraising, said Escobar. She is poised to replace Beto O’Rourke, a Latinx man and Democrat, facing off against Ted Cruz in Texas’ Senate election this November.
"Timing has to be right for a lot of us,” Escobar told the Texas Tribune. “And I think it’s even harder for women of color because fundraising is really such a huge component of running in a congressional race and many of us may have limited networks.”
Despite the barriers, Escobar said that, like women across the country, she decided to run for office after the election of Donald Trump and a political climate that had become increasingly disparaging toward women and immigrants.
"I think many of us have gotten to the point where we say forget the obstacles, we’ve just got to get this done," she continued. "There’s just too much at stake."
According to HuffPost, women hold just 25% of the 500,000 elected positions in the US. To correct this gross disparity, organizations like She Should Run have recruited and supported thousands of women running for office.
And, like Escobar and Green, women across the country have answered the call to action by running for office to ensure that women have a voice in the policy decision that shape their lives.
“Representation matters,” Danica Roem told Global Citizen a few months before she became the first transgender woman to win a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. “Can you imagine how much conversations in legislature would change if 51% of representatives were women?”