Gina Ortiz Jones, an openly lesbian Democratic congressional candidate for a key swing seat in Texas, raised nearly $100,000 in three days after the National Republican Congressional Committee asked other GOP and conservative groups to attack her for being gay.
“The outpouring of grassroots support our campaign received after Washington Republicans’ bigoted and homophobic attacks shows just how out of touch they are with Texans in this district,” Jones’ campaign manager, Lacey Morrison, said Tuesday.
HuffPost first reported last week that an NRCC website, DemocratFacts.org, instructed outside groups to include reminders of Jones’ sexual orientation in advertising and mailers. It highlighted an image of Jones with her partner, as well as the talking point that “Jones and her female partner lived and worked near Washington, DC, not Texas” before Jones ran for Congress.
The website is a way for the NRCC to communicate its preferred messaging to Republican super PACs and conservative groups without breaking campaign finance laws barring direct coordination. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee posts similar information on its site, and both parties have used the tactic in the past.
But of the dozens of candidates covered by DemocratFacts, Jones appears to be the only one pictured with a partner. Others are typically shown making unflattering faces or posing with political figures the NRCC hopes to link them to, and outside groups typically use the images in attack ads. The site does attack other candidates for having spent time in Washington, but it typically does not mention people they lived with.
Jones, a career civil servant who served in the Air Force in Iraq under President George W. Bush and worked in the Executive Office of the President under Barack Obama, went on the offense after HuffPost reported on the NRCC’s effort.
“I remember what it was like to serve under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. To hide who I am to serve our country,” Jones tweeted last Tuesday. “To the bigots: take your best shot. To everyone else: donate here to join our fight.”
Within 72 hours, Jones brought in close to $100,000 between her campaign committee and the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a national organization dedicated to electing openly LGBTQ candidates.
“Their efforts to attack an Air Force and Iraq War veteran who served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell clearly backfired,” Morrison said. “Our campaign will continue building on our momentum and expanding our coalition of supporters to ensure we elect Gina Ortiz Jones to Congress this November.”
The NRCC removed its language pointing to Jones’ sexual orientation following HuffPost’s report, no longer referring to her female partner. But DemocratFacts.org continues to feature the photo of Jones and her partner, and it still refers to her partner under a different tab on the website.
Here’s a screenshot of the photo still on the website:
NRCC spokesman Bob Salera would not say why the NRCC’s website still features a photo of Jones with her partner, or whether it plans to switch it to a photo of Jones by herself.
Instead, Salera provided this comment:
“What is the issue with using a picture of carpetbagging Washington, DC resident Gina Jones drinking champagne at a Michelin-starred Capitol Hill restaurant that costs $325 per person?”