How A Necklace Became A Symbol Of Defiance — And Sparked One Woman's Desire To Run For Office

"I was totally amazed by all the attention."

Laura Moser never thought she'd run for a Congress, but a necklace her aunt gave her has inspired her to step up.

Moser, who lives in Texas' seventh district, spent years thinking she was living in her ideal version of the United States. But the 2016 election woke her up to the fact that there was still a lot to fight for, and she's decided to wage that fight in the poll booth.

The 40-year-old former journalist and author helped found the activism group called Daily Action in November, 2016's aftermath. But as she watched protections for immigrants and refugees disintegrate over the past year, she decided that she needed to run for Congress. Last week, a tweetstorm about why she decided to take the leap – and a necklace she had from an aunt who escaped Germany during the Holocaust — went viral.

"I was totally amazed by all the attention," Moser told A Plus in a phone interview. "But then, it also didn't surprise me, because that's what is happening in the country right now." 

In her tweets, Moser explained that the necklace belonged to an aunt who escaped Germany in 1933. It was one of her few possessions that made it to America. She was a refugee who had lost everything, and yet she felt lucky because she survived. Moser says her upbringing in Houston made her aunt's stories feel "mythic," but reading about refugees and immigrants being closed out of the United States made them feel real to her again — and timely. In the days following Moser's tweetstorm, more than 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants lost their temporary protected status and their legal right to stay in the country. Many have been in the United States since in 2001.

Moser believes the message that we should protect immigrants and refugees will find a receptive audience in her district, which is just 38 percent White. In fact, the seventh district makes up the western portion of Harris County, which — according to the Houston Chronicle — "welcomes about 25 of every 1,000 refugees that the U.N. resettles anywhere in the world."

"Houston has taken in more refugees than most countries until this administration," Moser said. "The people that live here all have refugees and immigrants in their lives who are part of a community who they see every day."

Despite being one of the most diverse cities in the country, Moser said, Houston and the state of Texas continue to elect politicians who are "far-right ideologues" that don't represent what many people in the city want. She's hoping to change that. 

Laura Moser's campaign

Moser, who is Jewish, said that both her experience as a religious minority and her aspirations for her 5-year-old daughter motivated her to run for office. She joins a larger group of women who are running for elected office all over the country and already seeing huge success in states like Virginia.

"I love it, I'm so proud," Moser said. "I'm part of this group of women candidates in Texas and I've been connected to people all over the country and we've become quite good friends... we are all mad, and we're all fighting together."

Along with immigration reform, Moser is making women's health care, infrastructure spending and gun violence centerpieces of her campaign. She insists that even "traditionally conservative" women in Texas are tired of the constant assault on women's health care and preventative medicine, and notes that Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the entire country. 

As for her chances to win against Congressman John Culberson, a 16-year incumbent? Moser isn't lacking for confidence in herself or the women she's running with across the country.

"We are all very aware that we are part of a movement and we are all excited to have drinks after we get sworn in in January together," she said with a laugh. 

Cover image via Laura Moser.

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