A dark blue House district in South Texas turned bright red after a special election on Tuesday — suggesting the November midterm may be more successful for Republicans than previously thought.
Mexico-born goper Myra Flores won a four-man race with 51% of the vote to succeed incumbent Democratic Rep. Philemon Vela. Democrat Dan Sanchez, Vela followed him into Congress, finishing second with only 43.3% of the vote.
The results in a district where 85% of residents are Latino — and which Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton won by more than 20 percentage points in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, respectively — sent shockwaves through the political landscape.
“How did I feel about seeing some of the changes in Appalachia in 2010, or blue-collar regions in 2016,” Tweeted by Sean Trende, senior election analyst at RealClearPolitics As soon as the results came on Tuesday night. “Plus I didn’t really think I’d be looking for another 20 years or so. Just amazing.”
The district showed signs of a turnaround in the 2020 election, when President Biden defeated Donald Trump by only four percentage points, and Flores paid tribute to the 45th president in his victory speech.
“We Can’t Accept Escalation” [in the price] Of gas, of food, of medicine, we cannot accept it. And we have to state the fact that under President Trump, we didn’t have this mess in this country,” she told an enthusiastic crowd.
Flores, who is married to a Border Patrol agent, lashed out at him Border Security Introduced himself to voters by spending more than $1 million on TV commercials—according to the Texas Tribune—and strongly endorsed by the Republican National Committee. As a result, she became the first Republican since 1870 to represent any part of the Rio Grande Valley.
“Congratulations to Myra Flores, the next Congresswoman for TX-34! Myra is leading the charge for Republicans who are working to turn South Texas red,” RNC President Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “She is a fierce conservative who will make RGV proud, and we will continue to work to re-elect her in November.”
Flores also earned the backing of its most famous new constituent, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who owns a home in Boca Chica – part of the district that straddles the Gulf Coast between Brownsville and Corpus Christi before moving into rural South Texas. Snake does.
“I woke up this morning still feeling surreal from what has happened in the last 24 hours,” Flores tweeted on Wednesday. “Eloning Musk’s vote was just the icing on the cake and I can’t wait to work with his team! The American Dream is worth fighting for.”
Flores would not have long to serve in Congress. As she serves the remainder of Vela’s term, she must run to retain her seat against Representative Vicente Gonzalez. The 34th district would be more favorable to Democrats, who cited the low turnout nature of Tuesday’s special election and the money behind Flores to dampen their victory.
“Based on the results, we fell short tonight, despite spending millions of dollars in the interests of the state and the entire Republican machine,” Sanchez said in his concession statement. “A lot of factors were against us, with little or no support from the National Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”
But with Republicans under attack this midterm session, Tuesday’s victory is a sign of what’s possible for them on November 8.
“The new ‘reality’ is much more Biden +4 than Clinton +21 or Wella +13 (which happened in 2020),” election analyst Kyle Kondick tweeted Tuesday night, “A few caveats…the smaller the turnout, the better funded r candidates. But to me those are the things that only explain so much these days.”