Progressive Latina Organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez Is Running To Unseat A Republican In The Senate
In Texas, Latina organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez has launched her campaign for US Senate with the hopes of unseating Republican John Cornyn in 2020. The 37-year-old contender joined the crowded Democratic primary race on Monday. In her launch video, the Austin-based activist alluded to this month’s mass shooting in El Paso, where a white supremacist gunman shot and killed nearly two dozen Latinxs during an attack at a local Walmart.
Tzintzún Ramirez says hateful rhetoric coming from the White House and conservatives in her own state has allowed “people to feel like they can target us on the streets of our community.”
The candidate is running on a progressive platform that supports Medicare for All.
She is also pushing for the Green New Deal, “massive divestment from Immigration and Customs Enforcement” and rejecting all corporate PAC money. Recently she announced plans to create a “bold” immigration proposal that would “protect the rights of immigrant workers and families.”
“They have refused to deal with immigration reform in a state where one in 10 workers is undocumented, where the economic boom in this state has literally been built on the backs of undocumented workers,” Tzintzún Ramirez, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant mother and Irish-American father, told the Houston Chronicle. “We have to acknowledge states like Texas — and our country — depend on immigrant workers.”
The long-time organizer has more than a decade of experience working directly with immigrant communities.
In 2006, she co-founded the Workers Defense Project (WDP), an Austin-based immigrant workers group focusing its efforts on the construction industry, which is the largest employer of undocumented laborers in the state. Tzintzún Ramirez served as the WDP’s executive director from its start until 2016. The following year, she founded Jolt, the largest Latinx civil rights organization in the state, which works to uplift the voice, vote and issues impacting the vast demographic in Texas.
“I’m not a career politician, I have not previously run for office,” she told The Intercept. “I was recruited to run by folks that I think really wanted to have a candidate that represents the ordinary Texan and to advocate for their interests, to protect their rights and fight for them.”
Tzintzún Ramirez will depend on that experience to help her unseat the three-term GOP incumbent.
She says her team will be able to defeat the establishment by mobilizing the kind of voters that the political system has “underestimated and discounted,” particularly young folk and people of color. While the executive director of Jolt, a position she stepped down from to embark on her campaign, the group helped drive unprecedented voter registration and turnout in 2018. Jolt knocked on the doors of 40,000 Latinx voters, many of whom had never voted before, and also registered voters during Latinx cultural events, like quinceañeras and fairs, as well as on college campuses.
She says her campaign’s Latinx outreach strategy will be even “more grounded in cultural community events,” with a deeper focus on young people on college campuses.
“I know how to speak to the diversity of this state,” Tzintzún Ramirez told the Houston Chronicle.
According to The Intercept, Tzintzún Ramirez is the fifth serious contender to join the Democratic primary race and has serious challengers in candidates like M.J. Hegar, an Air Force veteran who lost a 2018 House race in a Republican-leaning district; State Sen. Royce West; and Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards.
For her team, Tzintzún Ramirez has brought along several workers from Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign, which challenged incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in the closest race the state has seen in the last 40 years.
Zack Malitz, O’Rourke’s former field director and a key player on the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign, will serve as a senior adviser. Katelyn Coghlan, former statewide deputy field director for O’Rourke, will be her campaign manager. Ginny Goldman, co-founder of the Texas Organizing Project, will be a campaign chair. Additionally, Tzintzún Ramirez is working with Middle Seat, a digital firm that helped O’Rourke raise substantial funds throughout his campaign.
One of the first fundraising goals for Tzintzún Ramirez’s campaign was to raise $100,000 in the first 24 hours of her launch. On Tuesday, the candidate tweeted that they more than doubled that target, collecting over $200,000 in one day.
Tzintzún Ramirez believes the growing momentum around her campaign comes directly from people who are ready for a Texas that works for all Texans.
“I don’t think we have a reflection of those in power that represents the Texas we are today. I think I represent those ideals and the diversity of the state, and I want Texas to be a national leader in solving the major problems that our country faces,” she said.