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Here’s Why the South Texas Special Election Spells Doom for Dems in November

Republicans send first Mexican-born woman to Congress in Dem stronghold

Representative-elect Mayra Flores (R.) — YouTube
• June 15, 2022 11:36 am

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Republicans flipped a majority-Hispanic seat in South Texas for the first time in more than a century Tuesday night, a result that spells major trouble for Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterms.

Republican Mayra Flores became the first Mexican-born woman elected to Congress after she defeated Democrat Dan Sanchez by 8 points in the special election for Texas's 34th Congressional District, which incumbent Filemon Vela (D.) vacated in March. A Republican has not represented the area since 1870, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Flores's historic win will almost certainly send Democrats reeling just months away from November as the party loses its long-held grip on Hispanic voters. Vela won the district, which is 84 percent Hispanic, by 20 points in 2018 and 14 points in 2020. But record-high inflation, gas prices, and illegal immigrant encounters under President Joe Biden have driven South Texas's Hispanic voters to the Republican Party in droves. Flores, for example, defeated Sanchez in Cameron County, which is 90 percent Hispanic. Biden won the county by double-digits less than two years ago.

Bienvenido in Action—the first Hispanic PAC to support Flores in the special election—said that by electing Flores, "Hispanics are telling the rest of the country that we are fed up with reckless liberal policies and want change."

"Mayra won because she ran a campaign rooted in our community's values: God, family, and country," the group said in a statement. "Meanwhile, Joe Biden and the Democrats have made life more expensive for Hispanics, our neighborhoods less safe, and a mockery of our culture." 

"While gas prices go through the roof and families struggle to find baby formula," the group continued, "Biden and the left have weakened our communities, radicalized our school curricula, and even tried imposing offensive terms like ‘Latinx' to upend our language."

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

Flores will serve the remainder of Vela's term, which runs until January. She is set to face Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D., Texas) for a full term in November. That race is expected to be more difficult for Republicans, as it will take place under Texas's new congressional map, which makes Flores's district more solidly blue. Still, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the group will "continue working to reelect [Flores] in November." Hours after Flores's win, meanwhile, the UVA Center for Politics changed its rating of the November race from "Likely Democratic" to "Leans Democratic," citing "the stickiness of the Republicans' South Texas gains."

Published under: Texas