Washington Post on TX-02: ‘An Iranian-born progressive unseating a Trumpist veteran in Texas? It could happen.’

August 26, 2020

HOUSTON, Texas -- Today, the Washington Post featured TX-02 Democratic nominee Sima Ladjevardian and her strong campaign to challenge conservative posterboy and RNC speaker Dan Crenshaw, who “could be in trouble” after spreading dangerous COVID-19 disinformation and voting to gut the Affordable Care Act.

Washington Post: An Iranian-born progressive unseating a Trumpist veteran in Texas? It could happen.

By Jason Rezaian

August 26, 2020

  • If you happen to watch Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) when he speaks at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, spare a thought for his remarkable opponent in Texas’s 2nd Congressional District.

  • He’s currently fighting for reelection against Sima Ladjevardian, an Iranian-born lawyer turned political activist who was a key adviser to Beto O’Rourke in his surprisingly close race against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

  • There are very few political contests at the moment that dramatize the choice facing the nation in November better than the one in this district, which includes a wide swath of the Houston suburbs.

  • Yet Ladjevardian is smart, tough and persistent. And her biggest ally could be the same factor that is gradually threatening the GOP’s lock on the Lone Star State: demographic change.

  • Texas is a magnet for immigrants, and that has already transformed the politics of the state’s big cities. “There is an inevitability to this process. By 2050, all of America will look like Houston does today,” Stephen Klineberg, a professor of sociology at Rice who has published an annual survey of Houston residents since 1982, told me. “No force in the world is going to stop Houston and the rest of America from becoming less Anglo as the 21st century unfolds.”

  • A Crenshaw loss would be one of the most defiant repudiations of Trumpism imaginable. It would also reflect the changed reality of Houston, which has gradually become one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the country. In Harris County, where Houston is located, roughly 45 percent of the population is Latino, 19 percent are Black and 9 percent are Asian, while only 33 percent are White.

  • Since [Saturday Night Live], though, he has squandered the widespread goodwill he earned with his appearance by increasingly siding with and amplifying Trump. First, he questioned the patriotism of fellow Purple Heart recipient Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who lost both of her legs in the Iraq War. More recently he’s become a conspicuous circulator of covid-19 misinformation.

  • That could give a crucial boost to Ladjevardian, since Houston has been hit hard by the pandemic. When she recently received an endorsement from former president Barack Obama, Crenshaw seemed rattled.

  • When she was 12, Ladjevardian and her family fled Iran on the eve of Iran’s 1978 revolution, settling in northern California. Her father and grandmother had been members of parliament in Iran, so politics is in her blood. Before getting involved in political organizing in Texas, she had a thriving legal practice. Ladjevardian and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris graduated in the same law school class. She’s also a lifelong Star Wars fan; the family dog is named Jedi.

  • “She’s up against a man who enables the most nativist, racist, anti-immigrant president we’ve ever had,” O’Rourke told me in an email exchange. “Imagine what we can do in a presidential cycle with Trump at historically low approval ratings.”

  • If she does win, Ladjevardian would be the first person of Iranian origin elected to a national office — a huge milestone for the community. Yet she says that’s not what her candidacy is about.

  • “I’m not so much running as an Iranian American, but as a mom, a breast cancer survivor and a political activist,” Ladjevardian told me. “As an immigrant, I understand the value of why our votes matter and why it’s essential to be civically engaged.”

  • For her, she says, that means above all ensuring adequate health care for her constituents in a state that currently has the largest number of people without health insurance. The pandemic, and the state’s fumbling response to it, has dramatized that issue in a way that few other emergencies could.

  • Last month, more than 100 Texas doctors signed a letter condemning Crenshaw’s response to the coronavirus, saying that he had “spewed lies for the past four months — minimizing the threat we face and spreading dangerous disinformation for self-indulgent headlines.”

  • Right now, though, Texas Democrats believe Crenshaw’s fate is tethered to Trump’s. If health care and the pandemic become the deciding issues in the race, Crenshaw could be in trouble.

• • •

Sima Ladjevardian (SEE-ma LAHJ-ee-VAR-DEE-un) is a lawyer, a mother of two, a breast cancer survivor, and a political activist who has called Houston home for more than 30 years. After fleeing the political upheaval of the Iranian Revolution, her family immigrated to the United States for their shot at the American Dream. Eventually settling in Houston, Sima has become a local leader in cross-cultural dialogue, bringing Texans of all backgrounds and faiths together for social justice. As an activist, she has worked tirelessly to turn Texas blue and elect candidates up and down the ballot — all while serving senior roles in Beto O’Rourke's senate and presidential campaigns. She has been recognized by the University of Houston for her tireless philanthropic and nonprofit work in the community, and she is fueled by the desire to fight for quality, affordable health care, justice, and unity in the United States Congress.

Sima has been added to DCCC’s Red to Blue Program and endorsed by EMILY’s List, Congressional Black Caucus PAC, BOLD PAC, End Citizens United, Planned Parenthood, AFL-CIO, AAPI Victory Fund, AAA Fund, Emgage PAC, Giffords PAC, Brady PAC, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Human Rights Campaign, NewDems Action Fund, Texas American Federation of Teachers, President Barack Obama, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, former US Senate/presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, former Sec. of HUD/presidential candidate Julían Castro, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, and Congresswoman Katie Porter.

Washington Post on TX-02: ‘An Iranian-born progressive unseating a Trumpist veteran in Texas? It could happen.’