Fil-Am Democrat wins 1 of 2 close races for Congress

Community News & Features Dec 7, 2018 at 7:56 pm
TJ COX

TJ COX

Fil-Am Gina Ortiz-Jones conceded the Texas Congressional seat on November 19. But Fil-Am TJ Cox has declared victory in his California congressional district, becoming the first Fil-Am to represent California.

By Jose Victor ‘Jayvee’ Salamena

WASHINGTON, D.C.–In another blow to U.S. President Donald Trump and his agenda, and another historic victory for the Filipino-American community, the Democratic candidate for California’s 21st Congressional District, TJ Cox, whose mother is a Filipina, has declared victory over the Republican incumbent David Valadao on November 26. As of the time of writing, multiple local news sources are reporting that his lead has increased. TJ Cox now leads by 820 votes.

Cox was not the only Filipino-American Democrat in a close race. As was previously reported by The Philippine Reporter, Gina Ortiz Jones, the LGBTQ Filipino-American Democratic candidate for Texas’s 23rd congressional district, was also involved in a close congressional race against Republican incumbent Will Hurd. She only trailed by as little as 689 votes. But on November 19, multiple news outlets based in Texas reported that the campaign of Gina Ortiz-Jones has conceded the race. Had she won, she would have been the first Fil-Am US Congresswoman in history.

Gina Ortiz-Jones

Gina Ortiz-Jones

The win by TJ Cox in California’s 21st Congressional district also holds tremendous significance for the Filipino-American community. The state of California is the state with the biggest Filipino-American population, where Fil-Ams number as much as 1.47 million people. The California 21st congressional district also includes the city of Delano, the city where Filipino-Americans Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz, Benjamin Gines and Pete Velasco organized a labor strike that became known as the Delano grape strike, an important milestone in the US labor movement. California is also featured prominently in Filipino-American novelist and poet Carlos Bulosan’s novel America Is in The Heart. The novel is now considered a literary classic.

TJ Cox would become the second U.S. Congressperson where one of his or her parents is of full Filipino descent. Prior to TJ Cox would be Steve Austria, who served as a US Republican Representative for Ohio’s 7th congressional district, from 2009 to 2013. Current US representative Bobby Scott and former representative and US Senator John Ensign also claim Filipino descent, but from their grandparents.