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Crockett, Hamilton use different paths in race to follow Eddie Bernice Johnson in Congress

Retirement in Texas’ 30th congressional district creates rare changing of the guard in Dallas politics.

Jane Hamilton (left) and Jasmine Crockett (1)
Jane Hamilton (left) and Jasmine Crockett are in the May 24, 2022, Democratic runoff to replace longtime Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, in Congressional District 30.(The Dallas Morning News)

By Gromer Jeffers Jr.

The two Dallas Democratic women who took disparate political paths will clash Tuesday in the Congressional District 30 runoff to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson.

Jasmine Crockett, the frontrunner who is backed by Johnson, has been active in Dallas for less than 10 years. But she exploded on the political scene in 2020 with her visibility in the local social justice movement and by winning the District 100 state House seat once held by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson. As a freshman, she was a key figure in the House Democratic walkout to stall a controversial elections bill that ultimately became law.

Jane Hamilton, who is making her first run for public office, has worked in the area for more than two decades but is the lesser-known candidate. She’s managed the successful campaigns of U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. She served as Veasey’s chief of staff and directed Joe Biden’s 2020 Texas presidential primary campaign.

“They are very different,” said Ed Gray, a political observer and host of an online radio show called The Commish. “One is an activist, and the other one is a political operative, and in some ways it’s showing in this campaign.”

Texas House Rep. Jasmine Crockett (right) speaks alongside Michelle Anderson
Texas House Rep. Jasmine Crockett (right) speaks alongside Michelle Anderson, policy assoicate at the Afiya Center, during a rally in support of abortion rights at the Civic Garden outside the Earle Cabell Federal Building in downtown Dallas, Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

After a contentious runoff cycle, the candidates expressed confidence heading into Tuesday’s election.

“The momentum is palpable on the ground,” Hamilton said. “Our team has been knocking on doors and talking to voters since the March 1st primary.”

Hamilton said she was the best choice to succeed Johnson.

“My strong record of delivering results and being the only candidate having worked in Congress outshines our opponent and genuinely resonates with voters,” she said. “I am confident we will be victorious tomorrow.”

Crockett said she was proud of her campaign and supporters.


“I feel like I ran the race that I can be proud of — no lies, no bull …, none of that,” she said. “At the end of the day, I need to be able to say that, no matter what happens, I did things in the right way.”

Crockett, who is confident of victory, said the issues of the day — including the potential of losing abortion rights and having voting rights curtailed while the nation continues maneuvering through a pandemic — dictate the need for her to be Johnson’s successor.

“Having someone who is soundly grounded in the issues that are plaguing us every single day is really what matters most,” Crockett said. “Not to mention the district ends up with the benefit of the congresswoman and I having a very strong relationship, which will provide for the easiest and smoothest transition as we continue to move District 30 forward.”

Jane Hamilton
Jane Hamilton, candidate for the District 30 race, speaks at her town hall at the Duncanville Recreation Center in Duncanville, Texas, on February 8, 2022.(Liesbeth Powers / Special Contributor)

The winner of Tuesday’s Democratic runoff will face the winner of the GOP District 30 runoff between James Harris and James Rodgers.

Crockett won the March 1 primary with 48% of the vote in a nine-person field, coming just short of seizing the nomination without a runoff. Analysts credit two factors for Crockett’s first-place finish. Johnson’s backing raised the freshman lawmaker’s profile and led to lots of coverage locally and across the country. Two super PACs controlled by cryptocurrency financiers also backed Crockett. As of Monday, they had spent about $3 million combined to help her get elected.


Hamilton finished second with 17% of the vote and said she now hopes a resetting of the race and more endorsements will help her overcome the large deficit. While Crockett is backed by Johnson, Hamilton has been endorsed by former U.S. Trade representative and former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, state Rep. Royce West and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

Johnson, Kirk, West and Price are considered titans of Dallas-area Democratic politics, and the race to replace Johnson in Congress has provided an interesting split in the local political establishment.

Johnson’s backing of Crockett has netted visible returns. Tuesday’s election will determine how Hamilton’s backers stacked up.

“Obviously, the race will be closer than on March 1,” Gray said. “But catching up with 48% is a tough task.”

Gray said he would have liked the candidates to talk more about issues than spar with each other, including offering solutions for inflation and the rising costs of gasoline.


Both candidates agree on many of the boilerplate issues that surface in Democratic Party primaries. But flare-ups in the race between the candidates reveal differences in style.

Hamilton has been blasting Crockett for not returning to Texas House Chambers last year for a final vote on the elections bill. She said Democrats on the House floor managed to get concessions from Republicans that improved the bill, calling it one of the “greatest negotiations and fights that we have seen in Texas history.”

But Crockett defends her pledge not to participate in passage of the bill, saying that, if Democrats had stayed away from the House floor, Republicans would not have had the quorum needed to pass it. Crockett also said it was important to continue to push federal lawmakers to approve voting rights legislation that would have nullified the elections bill.

Outgoing Texas Democratic U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson
Outgoing Texas Democratic U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson made an appearance at the Simms Cedar Hill Recreation Center voting location in Cedar Hill, Texas, where her replacements were campaigning, March 1, 2022. The United States House of Representatives 30th District is up for grabs as she steps down after 30 years. (Tom Fox / Staff Photographer )

Both women have resisted labels to define what type of Democrat they are. Hamilton was an aide to former U.S. Rep. Martin Frost. Veasey, who also worked with Frost and was Hamilton’s former boss, is considered a moderate.

Crockett has progressive credentials and is backed by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both noted progressives.

Johnson, the trailblazing Democrat who served in the Texas House and Senate, has represented the district for nearly 30 years.

So either Crockett or Hamilton will represent a rare changing of the guard in Dallas County politics.

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