What Is Claire Underwood Running For On 'House Of Cards'? Texas Is Big For The First Lady
House of Cards Season 4 is upon us, y'all. Though it's been a year since Frank and Claire kissed corner to corner of my computer screen, it kinda feels like only yesterday (spoiler coming!) that the First Lady was walking out on the President of the United States after a scuffle in the White House. Early on the in Episode 1 of Season 4 we learn that Claire's still not in Washington — she's in Texas, and planning to get involved in the political process once again. But what is Claire running for? House of Cards doesn't make it immediately clear why the First Lady is in town, but a few sound bites from her meeting with Leann Harvey (played by Neve Campbell) make her intentions pretty clear. Claire Underwood's got her eyes set on what she refers to as "the 30."
"I'm here to run for the 30," Claire tells Harvey. The 30th is shorthand for Texas's 30th Congressional District, which, according to Ballotopedia.com, falls in the northern part of the state and includes Dallas and Dallas County, where Claire was raised. In her standard matter-of-fact tone, Underwood unravels her plan to usurp the only up-for-grabs seat in the Senate from Doris Jones' daughter, Celia. Of course Claire lies and tells Harvey that the president is totally on board, but we all know the hidden truth hiding behind that little white lie.
You will be the First Lady. pic.twitter.com/xMRe1FGuL0— House of Cards (@HouseofCards) February 18, 2016
Yet even before Claire's able to get off to the races, already there's a flaw in the plan. Harvey spells out that the cards are not stacked in Claire's favor — not even by a long shot. As Harvey explains, the problem is that Claire Underwood is "lily white, [in your] designer heels and tailored dresses." She goes on to say:
If House of Cards is depicting Texas's 30 Congressional district with any semblance of reality in mind (which it sounds like they are), Harvey's assessment sounds right on the money. According to Ballotpedia.com's stats, the 30 Congressional District in Texas is 44.0 percent black, 41 percent white, and 1.9 percent Asian. The district's ethnicity is 37.1 percent Hispanic, and the median household income is just over $40,000 annually. Though Harvey is by no means saying that voters in the 30 wouldn't vote for Underwood (it's way too early to predict that), she is suggesting that Underwood as a candidate — who clearly grew up privileged, nurtured, cared for, and with money and means to pursue her dreams — would be a much harder sell for voters hoping to elect someone who's shared their same struggles.
At a meeting arranged between Doris Jones, the current Senate seat-holder in the 30, her daughter, Celia (who'll assume the seat once Jones leaves), and Doug (because yep, you guessed it: Frank caught wind of Claire's radical proposal), it becomes clear that Doug's set Claire up for the governorship — but in four years time. But Claire Underwood came correct. She had a plan and was quick on her feet. all Doug, Celia, and Doris are caught off guard by the news that Claire wants the Senate seat now, and not a bid for the Governor's Mansion in four years. Despite her rationale, both Jones women agree: Claire Underwood's just too much of an outsider to reflect the values that the 30 needs right now.
So what's going to happen to Claire's bid for an office of her own? At this point, her best guess is as good as mine.