UT Law School alumna Julie Oliver is in the middle of campaigning to unseat three-term incumbent Congressman Roger Williams in House District 25, which stretches from Fort Worth to Austin.
Last Tuesday, Oliver’s campaign picked up a high-profile endorsement from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a former UT Law School professor. Oliver said the endorsement came as a surprise.
“One of my old law school professors who was a tax professor reached out to me on the campaign,” Oliver said. “I met him for coffee and he starts talking about Liz, Apparently when he was at UT School of Law teaching, they carpooled every day. So he actually connected us, and we called and had a conference call with her campaign, asked for her endorsement, and it was given.”
In a statement announcing her support for Oliver, Warren said she was inspired by the candidate’s backstory.
“Julie’s got such an inspiring story,” Warren said in statement. “She grew up in poverty, was a pregnant runaway in high school, managed to put herself through college & law school with a young family, and went on to serve her community in a number of ways and has always taken care of everyone around her. Women like Julie aren’t supposed to run for Congress — nevertheless, she persisted.”
Oliver said her campaign also connected with Warren’s on causes that the candidates both share a passion for.
“I think there was a recognition that our campaign platform wants to protect consumers,” Oliver said. “And I know that’s very important to Senator Warren. I think she also recognizes our campaign is one that is, as a very prominent part of the campaign platform, wanting to revisit campaign finance reform in a major way.”
The campaign office for Williams did not return a request for comment.
Regarding the practicality of an endorsement from a big Democratic star in a presumably conservative district, Joshua Blank, manager of polling and research at the Texas Politics Project, said the endorsement will likely affect fundraising.
“This is more about a signal to donors that this is a campaign worth contributing to,” Blank said. “Whether that means it’s more or less competitive is an open question.”
Alexander Clark, a current UT law student and early supporter of Oliver, agrees.
“I had never heard of Julie Oliver until I met her, and was immediately blown away,” Clark said. “What Elizabeth Warren is going to do for her is say to a very important group of people, activists and donors, ‘Hey you need to check her out.’”
Oliver said she views the endorsement as a milestone, and despite the supposedly tough odds against her, believes that a District 25 win is possible.
“People have been ignoring District 25 thinking that it’s very solidly Republican, you’ll never have a chance to flip it,” Oliver said. “I can tell you there’s something brewing, and it’s not just on the Democratic side … It’s funny because Republicans will actually actively seek me out. They’ll call me, they’ll find me, they’ll come to a town hall, and they will tell me they want to meet me and say, ‘I just want to make sure that you’re not crazy.’”