AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A recount in Texas has affirmed Democrat Michelle Vallejo as her party’s nominee for a new congressional district that Republicans are aggressively targeting this November as they demonstrate new strength with Hispanic voters along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Vallejo defeated Ruben Ramirez by 35 votes, according to results of a recount announced Friday by the Texas Democratic Party. Ramirez had requested the recount after trailing by 20 votes in a May 24 runoff.
The Associated Press had not previously called the race, pending the outcome of the recount.
The victory by Vallejo sets up a significant test this fall for progressive Democrats who backed her in the 15th Congressional District, one of two new U.S. House seats awarded to booming Texas after a decade of explosive growth driven by new Latino residents.
Vallejo’s supporters from the left flank of the party including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She will face Republican Monica De La Cruz, who won the GOP nomination.
For decades, South Texas has been a Democratic stronghold where Republicans put in little effort and struggled to even find candidates. But that is rapidly changing after several border counties showed big swings toward former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
The GOP already got a statement victory in South Texas earlier this month when Republican Mayra Flores won a special election to fill the remaining term of former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela, who left Congress early to take a lobbying job.