Whichever candidate wins in Texas’ 34th Congressional District on Tuesday will only be in office until January.
The congressional district was formerly represented by Democrat Filemon Vela Jr., the 9-year moderate incumbent who retired in March to join Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a major Washington lobbying firm.
The leading candidates for both parties, Republican Mayra Flores and Vela Jr.-endorsed Democrat Dan Sanchez are now vying for the seat in a special election that would see them wrap up the remainder of Vela Jr.’s term.
Due to redistricting, the congressional district will change its borders for the 2022 November general election and shift from being an already Democratic-leaning district to an even more Democrat-friendly district.
Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who represents the neighboring TX-15, is switching congressional districts and will run in TX-34 in November.
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.
Despite the seat soon becoming out of reach for Republicans, Republican Mayra Flores has raised $1 million for the contest, while Democrat Dan Sanchez has raised $146,000.
Sanchez, a former Cameron County Commissioner, assistant district attorney and judge, told the Signal that fighting for the congressional seat is important despite its looming expiration date.
“A lot can happen between now and November,” Sanchez said. “Right now there’s very important legislation moving towards gun safety and the safety of our citizens and community.”
“There’s a lot of issues in South Texas that need attention and there’s no reason to let it go to the other side and let nothing be done when a lot can be done in these six months,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said his experience and name recognition from serving the community for more than two decades is enough to win the race regardless of Republican dollars pouring into the district.
He said if Republicans flipped the seat, it would be used as a battle cry for GOP fundraising in South Texas.
“I think South Texas isn’t for sale,” Sanchez said. “The citizens of South Texas will decide who their representatives gonna be, not the money from D.C. or outside of the area.”
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