A Surprise Win, and Another Notch for Progressives in Texas

by | Jul 16, 2020 | Politics, Texas Elections

Around north Texas, the buzz surrounding the runoff election was mostly focused on the high-profile wins of MJ Hegar and Candace Valenzuela, however, later into election night, a curious development occurred with an upset in House District 100. Jasmine Crockett, an attorney and a staple of the Black Lives Matter protests in Dallas, bested incumbent Lorraine Birabil in the solidly Democratic district.

After processing the very last mail-in ballots, Crockett won by 88 votes. Birabil, who had previously worked for Rep. Marc Veasey, had the support of Annie’s List, former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, County Judge Clay Jenkins and Beto O’Rourke.

Crockett is an attorney and the President of the Dallas Black Criminal Bar Association. In her legal career she has worked with a number of clients facing civil rights injustice. Crockett was an attorney for the family of Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old from Balch Springs who was killed by a police officer in 2017.  

Following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests around the country, Crockett was a major presence in Dallas at marches and rallies. On June 1, when over 600 protesters were arrested on the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge, Crockett represented several of those charged. All charges against protesters were eventually dropped.

As an attorney and a candidate, Crockett is outspoken about criminal justice reform. She would like to see police departments ban the use of “less-than-lethal” projectiles and ballistics. Crockett is also the attorney for Brandon Saenz, a 26-year-old resident of Dallas who suffered serious injuries, including the loss of his left eye, after Dallas police officers used projectiles against protesters. On Twitter, Crockett said her first bill would be The Brandon Saenz Act to ban the weapons that grievously injured her client.

Ahead of the runoff, Crockett galvanized the youth and progressive vote, earning endorsements from the Young Latino Democrats of Dallas, the Sunrise Movement, the Texas Organizing Project and the Working Families Party. Her campaign was also active in registering voters and distributing face masks.

Birabil had won House District 100 in a special election, and this was her fourth time on the ballot. In Austin, a similar scene played out with Penny Morales Shaw beating incumbent Anna Eastman, who had also recently won the seat in a special election.

Crockett’s surprise win also illustrated the progressive wave that occurred in Texas during the runoff, with candidates like Valenzuela, Mike Siegal and Lorenzo Sanchez advancing to the general election.

Photo: Jasmine Crockett for House District 100 Facebook

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A longtime writer and journalist, Jessica was thrilled to join the Texas Signal where she could utilize her unique perspective on politics and culture. As the Features and Opinion Editor, she is responsible for coordinating editorials and segments from diverse authors. She is also the host of the podcast the Tex Mix, as well as the co-host for the weekly SignalCast. Jessica attended Harvard College, is a onetime fitness blogger, and has now transitioned to recreational runner (for which her joints are thankful).

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