Rising Republican star Mayra Flores beat out Democratic challenger Dan Sanchez on Tuesday in a special election to finish Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela’s current term in South Texas, a competitive congressional seat the GOP believes it can flip for good in November.
Flores will finish out the remainder of Vela’s term, which expires in January, and Republicans were eager to win the seat and gain new ground in the Lone Star state to represent the district that spans east of San Antonio with parts along the coast to Brownsville.
As currently drawn, the 34th Congressional District will essentially be dissolved later this year after a newly redrawn map favoring current 15th Congressional District Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, the Democratic nominee for November’s general election to represent the 34th District, was constructed.
The Democratic nominee for the November contest is Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who ditched a reelection bid for his current House seat after a new Republican-drawn redistricting map made it difficult to win. Gonzalez announced that he would not participate in the special election, which left Democrats scrambling for a candidate to finish out Vela’s term.
By contrast, Republicans went all-in on the race, outspending Democrats in an effort to turn a congressional seat red that has been blue for decades. President Joe Biden carried South Texas by only 4 percentage points in 2020. His underperformance emboldened Republicans and turned the area into a battleground.
Top Republicans, on a state and national level, quickly coalesced behind Flores, a Mexican immigrant. She has been endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi, Texas GOP Vice-Chairwoman Cat Parks, and the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is the leading super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership.