Rep. Filemon Vela says he won’t seek reelection

by | Mar 22, 2021 | Congress, Politics

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) will not be seeking re-election, a spokesperson for the lawmaker confirmed to Axios on Monday.

Filemon has represented the district since 2013. He was re-elected in 2020 with a 13.5 percent margin over his Republican opponent. 

In his statement to media, Vela did not say why he was not seeking a sixth term in Congress. 

“I will continue to focus on maintaining a Democratic House and Senate Majority in my capacity as a member of Congress and Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, while working diligently for the people I am so grateful to represent,” he said.

Vela was among the trio of South Texas lawmakers including Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente González that faced historically tight margins in their re-election races in 2020. Vela faced off against the same opponent Rey Gonzalez in 2018 and 2020. He defeated Gonzalez by 20 percentage points in 2018. 

More serious problems for Democrats were seen at the top of the ticket. Biden defeated Trump by 4 percentage points in Vela’s district in 2020, and Clinton defeated Trump by 21.5 points in 2016.

The National Republican Congressional Committee recently added all three South Texas congressional targets to their list of potential pickups in 2022. Previously, only Reps. Colin Allred of Dallas and Lizzie Fletcher of Houston were targeted by the committee. 

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images | + posts

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

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