Midterm results: Republican Mayra Flores defeated in South Texas House race

Mayra Flores
In this Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, photo Republican congressional candidate Mayra Flores speaks at a Cameron County Conservatives event in Harlingen, Texas. Flores argues that Democrats are forcing Texans choose between their energy sector jobs and curbing climate change. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Eric Gay/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Midterm results: Republican Mayra Flores defeated in South Texas House race

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After a hard-fought campaign, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) bested Rep. Mayra Flores (R-TX) following the rising GOP star’s upset victory in a special election back in June in a historically Democratic stronghold in South Texas.

Flores’s June victory for Texas’s 34th Congressional District had fueled Republican dreams of making inroads with Latino voters. Her general election contest with Gonzalez, a different contender than the one she faced in the special election race, was seen as a test of whether that upset was a fluke.

THE GOP’S THREE AMIGAS

“They feel entitled to our vote, making the same promises over and over and really not making nothing happen,” Flores proclaimed on Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo after her special election victory.

Republican groups had opened the campaign spigot for her general election contest in hopes of duplicating her victory. Redistricting had rendered the 34th District a deeper shade of blue and Gonzalez’s current 15th District less favorable to Democrats, prompting his decision to make the switch.

Flores had vied against Democratic challenger Dan Sanchez in the special election race to replace Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX), who had held the seat since 2013 and resigned earlier this year. Gonzalez declined to participate in the contest, sending Democrats scrambling and creating an opening for Flores.

President Joe Biden only managed to carry the South Texas region by a mere 4 percentage points in 2020, indicating that Democrats’ century-long grip on the Rio Grande Valley could be loosening. Republican firepower in the Lone Star State such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott quickly rallied around Flores in hopes of securing her victory.

The Flores-Gonzalez race had been deemed a toss-up by the Cook Political Report. Throughout their matchup, Gonzalez took a page from national Democrats and sought to caricature Flores as a MAGA extremist, while billing himself as more of a centrist.

Gonzalez panned Flores’s political positions as “extreme[ly] right-wing, election-denying, thinks that Jan. 6 was a hoax, [and] believes QAnon conspiracy theories,” — characterizations Flores’s campaign shrugged off as “lies.”

One of the key flashpoints in the race that quickly emerged was immigration. The 34th Congressional District, which stretches from the western Rio Grande Valley as far north as San Antonio, includes a large swath of the southern border, struggling with a mass influx of immigrants in recent months.

Gonzalez has prodded President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to come visit the border, while touting safe zones and a litany of other immigration policies he has championed as part of his platform.

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Meanwhile, Flores has pinned the blame for the “humanitarian crisis” at the border squarely on Democrats such as Biden and made bolstering border security a key priority of her campaign. She has also campaigned on inflation and other economic issues.

FiveThirtyEight ranks the 34th Congressional District as a D+17 seat.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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