Speed Reads

Still Blue

Texas GOP comes up short in big push to flip heavily Latino Rio Grande Valley

Republicans had high hopes, and spent heavily, to win the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, after making inroads in the heavily Latino region in the 2020 elections and Rep. Mayra Flores' (R-Texas) flipping the 34th Congressional District in a special election in June. The state and national GOP invested a lot of time and money to get Flores re-elected in the 34th District and flip the 15th and 28th Congressional Districts. They managed to win the newly redrawn 15th District but lost the other two, as Flores noted after her defeat.

"They spent over $7 million against us, spewing lies and hate and disinformation," Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D) said at his victory party after defeating Flores. "Even with these large investments, we showed the Republican party that South Texas is not their home." Gonzalez represents the 15th District but moved to the 34th after Republicans redrew his old district to be more Republican. 

In the new 15th District, a Democratic stronghold since its creation, Republican Monica De La Cruz beat Democrat Michelle Vallejo, making history as the first woman to represent the district, The Texas Tribune reports. "I want it to be known that my victory is not just a win for Republicans," De La Cruz said at her election party. "It is a win for all of south Texas."

The 15th district was redrawn last year from being one President Biden won by 1.9 percentage points in 2020 to a district former President Donald Trump would have won by 2.8 points. And as Texas Monthly's Jack Herrera notes, Vallejo won the more Latino southern parts of the district. 

The four counties that make up the Rio Grande Valley — Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo, Starr Counties — also all voted Democratic in the statewide races, despite spending "huge" money, state Rep. Rafael Anchía (D) said. Republicans "went all in" on the three congressional seats, and "they picked up ONE heavily gerrymandered seat that was foregone."

Outside of the Rio Grande Valley, Texas Republicans had a good election night — the GOP had its 14th consecutive sweep of statewide offices — "but the South Texas results robbed Republicans of the hoped-for narrative that Hispanic voters were abandoning Democrats in droves," The Texas Tribune reports. And that's a sliver of hope, because "Hispanic residents now represent the largest ethnic group in Texas, surpassing non-Hispanic white residents earlier this year in a census estimate."