Air Force veteran Gina Ortiz Jones announces second bid for Texas House seat

PHOTO: Gina Ortiz Jones is pictured on Aug. 10, 2018, in San Antonio, Texas.PlayEric Gay/AP, FILE
WATCH News headlines today: May 14, 2019

Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, the openly-gay Iraq War veteran, who narrowly lost to GOP Rep. Will Hurd in one of 2018's tightest battleground races, announced Tuesday she's waging another challenge against Hurd for Texas' 23rd Congressional District.

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"Last November, I came up a little bit short in my run for Congress -- 926 votes," she said in a Twitter video announcing her long-awaited 2020 run. "But I've never been one to back down because the promise of our country is worth fighting for."

"It's why I served in the military and deployed to Iraq, it's why I served in President Obama's administration, and it's why I've dedicated my life to public service," she continued. "And it's why I'm stepping up again to run for Texas' 23rd Congressional District."

PHOTO: Gina Ortiz Jones is pictured on Oct. 20, 2017, in Washington D.C. Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
Gina Ortiz Jones is pictured on Oct. 20, 2017, in Washington D.C.

Aiming to turn the majority-Hispanic, purple district blue, the former Air Force intelligence officer was among at least 50 women who ran for office in Texas in 2018. The district stretches from San Antonio to El Paso and covers nearly 820 miles along the southwestern U.S.-Mexico border, bringing the issue of immigration to the forefront.

She said that as the child of an immigrant, her views on the border and national security are rooted in her upbringing and her connection to the people on the other side of the border.

"When I … go to border towns, you can't just talk about that city without talking about the sister city on the other side. These are places that, frankly ... the border separates them, but for many purposes, these are essentially almost one community," she told Teen Vogue in 2018.

If elected, she would make history as the first Filipina-American congresswoman.

PHOTO: Rep. Will Hurd speaks during a news conference in Washington D.C., April 18, 2018. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images, FILE
Rep. Will Hurd speaks during a news conference in Washington D.C., April 18, 2018.

Ortiz Jones' entrance into the Democratic primary was highly-anticipated after she refused to concede for nearly two weeks as the state counted all outstanding ballots in her first race against Hurd.

Prior to running for the congressional seat, Ortiz Jones worked for the Trump administration as a director in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, after initially serving under the Obama administration since 2016. She left that position and decided to run as a Democrat after watching the president take actions she viewed as harmful to women and minority groups.

"The type of people that were brought in to be public servants were interested in neither the public nor the service," Jones said in an interview with the Huffington Post last year. "That, to me, was a sign that I'm going to have to serve in a different way."

Although the Republican-controlled district was once seen as GOP lock in the deep-red state, voters supported Hillary Clinton over President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election despite re-electing Hurd that same year – putting it in Democrats' crosshairs as a vulnerable seat.

Shortly after the announcement, the GOP's campaign arm immediately took a swipe at Ortiz Jones -- the first formidable opponent for Hurd this cycle.

"If the definition of insanity truly is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, someone should check on Texas Democrats," said Bob Salera, spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Texans rejected D.C. native Gina Jones in 2018 and will do so once again if the socialist Democrats nominate her next year."

After an appearance on ABC's "The View" on Tuesday, fellow Texan and 2020 presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke weighed in on her announcement -- striking a cordial tone without signaling where he stands on an endorsement this time around.

"I think it's great," he told ABC News backstage. "I think she is a really strong candidate and could be a phenomenal member of Congress."

PHOTO: Beto ORourke appears on The View, May 14, 2019. ABC
Beto O'Rourke appears on "The View," May 14, 2019.

In 2018, the former Texas congressman and then-Senate candidate refused to endorse Ortiz Jones in her election against Hurd, although they were on the same ballot as Democrats running in the same state since it conflicted with his friendship with the Republican incumbent.

While O'Rourke's insurgent candidacy seemed to buttress many down-ballot candidates across Texas in the midterm elections, he was criticized for his decision to stay neutral in the race.

Over the weekend, when pressed by a voter in New London, New Hampshire on his refusal to endorse her, O'Rourke still would not commit to supporting fellow Democrats on the ticket if he were to secure the party's nomination.

"I can't take a pledge to support every single Democrat in the country," he said. "I need to see first right? Would you want me to make a blanket commitment about people I know nothing about, that I've never met and I know nothing about their character?”

"Will Hurd, Gina Ortiz Jones opponent, the incumbent member of Congress and a good friend of mine, was someone who in my day job as a member of Congress representing El Paso, I was able to work with," he said.

ABC News' Briana Stewart contributed to this report.