GOP Congressional Candidate Mayra Flores flipped a U.S. House seat on Tuesday, beating out Democrat Dan Sanchez by less than eight percentage points in a special election for Texas’ 34th Congressional District.
Flores narrowly avoided a runoff in the four-way race with a warchest of $1 million that significantly outshined her opponents.
The win is now being celebrated as a historic victory for the GOP in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, but it will only see Flores go to Washington to complete the remainder of Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. ‘s term, who retired in March.
That means Flores will be in office until January, and the current district she represents will change its borders for the 2022 November general election due to redistricting and become a heavily Democratic district.
Flores, a respiratory therapist, is running for the seat again in November where she will face a much more well-known and financially backed opponent, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, the congressman who represents the neighboring TX-15 but is switching congressional districts and will run in TX-34 in November.
None of this has stopped conservatives from trumpeting Flores, who will become the first Mexican-born congresswoman, as a turning point for Republicans and the GOP Hispanic vote in South Texas — TX-34 is 85 percent Hispanic, according to Census data.
Elon Musk for example predicted a “massive red wave” in 2022 and said voting for Flores was the first time he’s voted for the GOP.
Progressives are pointing fingers at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (who kept its distance from the race) for failing to reach Hispanic voters, as well as national Democrats who were only involved in the nearby Texas’ 28th Congressional District to support conservative Democrat Rep. Henry Cuella.
In a statement, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa appeared confident the district will return to Democrats in 2023.
“Despite flooding South Texas with over three million dollars in far-right dark money — in a special election called by the Governor at a time specifically chosen to give Republicans an overwhelming advantage — Republicans could barely squeak out a win in CD-34,” Hinojosa said.
The chairman has a strong point: less than 10 percent of eligible voters in the district cast a ballot in the special election, which came a few short weeks after the May 24 primary runoff.
Under the new maps, Democrats will receive an estimated 58 percent of the vote share in TX-34, a result of Texas Republican lawmakers designing districts in the state to be less competitive, more partisan and overall favor the number of GOP lawmakers sent to Washington.
Photo: © Texas Signal Media Company
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org