Texas House Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Dallas, announced Wednesday she’s running for Dallas’ competitive congressional District 30, and was quickly backed by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who’s held the seat in Congress for almost 30 years.
“[Johnson] has seen me work,” Crockett said at a news conference Wednesday to announce her candidacy. “I truly feel that she knows that I have what it takes to be the next congresswoman for CD30.”
Johnson issued a statement endorsing Crockett shortly after.
“A vibrant congressional district like TX-30 needs a representative in Washington with high energy, a passion to fight for us, shrewd intelligence, leadership, and an incessant drive,” Johnson said. “After proudly serving the City of Dallas and Southern sector for 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, I firmly believe that Texas State Representative Jasmine Crockett is just the person we need in Congress at this critical time.”
More than two dozen people attended Wednesday’s press conference. Supporters passed out turquoise and red signs that said “Jasmine Crockett Democrat for US Congress” and “It’s on us.” Many sported black face masks that read “Jasmine Crockett for State Representative 100.”
“I am ready to serve,” Crockett said. “I’m asking that you believe this isn’t about me, it’s not about you, it’s about us.”
Crockett praised Johnson for what she accomplished during her time in Congress.
“There’s so many more stories like that about Congresswoman Johnson. I want to be clear that this district has always had a fighter,” Crockett said. “She may not be on the cameras but when I tell you she’s done her part, I feel so proud to think that she would think that I’m worthy.”
.@RepEBJ has told several potential contenders and others that she’s backing @jasminefor100 to replace her in Congress. Crockett is expected to launch her bid for the District 30 seat later today. Johnson is retiring after her term ends next year.— Gromer M. Jeffers (@gromerjeffers) November 24, 2021
Crockett said some of her top priorities if elected would include voting rights, health care and reproductive rights.
“The fact that I’m going back 50 years when it comes to voting rights and reproductive rights is a problem in and of itself,” she said. “We need to get back on track.”
Crockett said she initially didn’t intend to seek out the congressional seat, but became open to the idea after having conversations with Johnson about redistricting.
”There was not one singular conversation, there were a series of conversations,” Crockett said. “And honestly, they were never about this seat, they were about the work and the people.”
A number of elected officials voiced their support for Crockett at Wednesday’s press conference, including Dallas City Council member Adam Bazaldua, Aicha Davis of the State Board of Education and Shaunte L. Allen of the Glenn Heights City Council.
“I strongly believe that Rep. Jasmine Crockett is the one that’s going to turn things around and improve those outcomes and opportunities for our students,” Davis said. “As we have issues like critical race theory and mask mandates, we need somebody who understands our communities and our kids, somebody who’s willing to talk to our parents, and that person is Rep. Crockett.”
Crockett, 40, a criminal defense and civil rights attorney, was elected to the Texas House last year after a tight runoff in the Democratic primary for House District 100. As the sole Black freshman in the Legislature this year, she made waves both for her ambitious bill filing and her passionate delivery and debate on the House floor.
Johnson said Saturday as she announced her retirement that she would look for a qualified woman candidate to endorse as her replacement.
Crockett was an outspoken member of the delegation of Texas House Democrats who broke quorum this summer and flew to Washington, D.C., to push Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation. She was also a part of a group that stayed in Washington to keep the pressure on House and Senate leadership after many members of the delegation had headed home.
Crockett, who is used to running against the establishment, raised her name recognition by being a leading voice in the resistance House Democrats staged against the policies of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
“My first-term is starting to wrap up but the work remains and the calls continue to come,” Crockett said in a statement before the news conference Wednesday. “I’ve never shied away from a fight, I represent a district of fighters and people who know how to throw a punch when our backs are against a wall. So when Greg Abbott, Donald Trump, and others like them think they can box us into a corner — they better think twice.”
Crockett’s entry into the race would also set off what is expected to be a competitive primary race in her safe Democratic Dallas statehouse district.
The Democratic primary for District 30 was crowded even before Johnson announced her retirement on Saturday, which prompted more contenders to announce their candidacies.
On Sunday, Jane Hamilton, the former chief of staff for Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, announced that she was shifting from an exploratory phase to candidate for the District 30 seat. Former Dallas City Council member Vonciel Jones Hill is also running to replace Johnson in the March Democratic Party primary.
The other announced candidates include Shenita Cleveland, who ran in 2020 and picked up 13% of the vote, Zachariah Manning of Dallas, progressive Democrat Jessica Mason and Dallas lawyer Abel Mulugheta.
More candidates could emerge before the filing period ends Dec. 13, but the Johnson endorsement of Crockett could scare some off.
State Sen. Royce West could potentially decide to throw his hat in the ring. However, Johnson’s inclination to support a woman for the job surely played a role in her decision to endorse Crockett.
“I respect the wishes of the Congresswoman to be succeeded by a woman,” state Rep. Carl Sherman of DeSoto told The Dallas Morning News after Johnson released her endorsement. “Black women are the bedrock of the Democrat Party and their voice in Congress is crucial, especially in North Texas.”
Another Dallas state house member, Rep. Toni Rose, had been mentioned as a potential candidate, but she filed for reelection on Wednesday.
Emily Caldwell reported on this story from Washington, D.C. Catherine Marfin reported from Dallas. Political writer Gromer Jeffers Jr. contributed to this report.