GOP Latinas takeover falls short in Texas

Texas 2022 midterm election

Republican Monica De La Cruz (left) and Michelle Vallejo (right) will face-off in a competitive midterm race that could affect the balance of power in Congress.

(NewsNation) — A group of Republican Latina candidates whom the GOP expected to beat out Democrats in three Texas southern border districts fell short Tuesday night, with only one of the three claiming victory.

Both Democrats and Republicans had been especially focused on the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, made up of heavily Latino communities where the Biden administration’s struggle to address problems along the U.S.-Mexico border is a central issue.

The lone GOP victory in South Texas, by immigration hard-runner Monica De La Cruz, who won an open race in the newly redrawn 15th Congressional District, fell short of bold predictions from Republicans of a sweep in the heavily Hispanic region.

De La Cruz defeated Democrat Michelle Vallejo in a race that was the most favorable to Republicans, who drew the lines of the district after Texas was awarded two new House seats following the 2020 census.

“There was no red wave in South Texas. There wasn’t even a red ripple,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party.

De La Cruz became the first Republican to win the 15th District in its history. And it was the only South Texas district that Republicans won on Tuesday.

But they still forced Democrats to defend their turf, including longtime Democratic Texas incumbents Rep. Henry Cuellar and Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who fended off the most competitive challenges of their careers to win reelection in an important stronghold for their party.

Gonzalez defeated Rep. Mayra Flores, who won a special election this summer, in a rare race between two sitting members of Congress.

Flores had won a special election to become Texas’ first Republican Latina in Congress, but this time she was running under a redrawn 34th Congressional District, which includes the Gulf Coast, that was more favorable to Democrats.

“The RED WAVE did not happen. Republicans and Independents stayed home,” Flores tweeted. “DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE RESULTS IF YOU DID NOT DO YOUR PART!”

Cuellar defeated Republican Cassy Garcia, a former aide to Sen. Ted Cruz, in Texas’ 28h Congressional District.

Republicans hoped that victories by any of the three Latina candidates running for House seats in the region would deepen inroads the GOP is making nationally with Hispanic voters and demoralize Democrats in a place that has long been their turf.

In a sign of Republican optimism, Gov. Greg Abbott hosted his victory party in the border city of McAllen, reflecting the GOP’s eagerness to show conservatives are expanding their territory.

The Associated Press and Border Report contributed to this report.

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