Meet Mary Street Wilson, Underdog of the 2018 Texas Primaries

In a surprising turn of events, the candidate that raised the least amount of money and had the lower profile won the most votes in the Democratic primary for Congressional District 21.

Mary Wilson
Mary Wilson Illustration/Sunny Sone

Mary Wilson, a former math teacher running for Congressional District 21, raised a measly $40,000 over the last year. She had a handful of profiles in Science magazine, Dame and KUT. In comparison, Joseph Kopser raised about $770,000, received a slew of endorsements and a ton of press coverage. Derrick Crowe, a former Nancy Pelosi staffer, and Elliott McFadden, the former Travis County executive director also raised far more than Wilson and received endorsements from prominent groups.

Still, Wilson is the one headed to a runoff with Kopser. In fact, she received almost 1,000 more votes than Kopser.

Reached just after midnight, Wilson said she was “very excited, very happy” with the results. “Wow,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting.”

So, what gives? It’s hard to know for sure what fueled her surprising performance, but it’s certainly possible that Democrats decided that, given a choice, they wanted to cast their vote for a woman. Wilson agreed that being the sole woman in a four-way race with three men likely played a role.

“It had to,” she said. “I’m not naive enough to think that I didn’t get some default votes.”

But that alone didn’t cinch her over 15,600 votes, she said. She was aided by many volunteers who spent time knocking on doors and making calls. In the early days of campaigning, she said she spent time talking to voters and showed up to every event organized by local Democratic groups. “That just cost the amount of money to put gas in my car,” Wilson said. “I put in all the work. Most of that is up to the candidate. … I worked very hard for this.”  

Wilson said she was looking forward to campaigning ahead of the May 22nd runoff. She said she would take a day or two to process the results of the primary and then begin planning for the runoff. “I’m looking forward to the next phase,” she said.

Naveena Sadasivam is a staff writer covering energy and the environment at the Observer. She is currently an Ida B. Wells fellow at The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her work on Twitter.

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Published at 1:07 am CST