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Latino Democrats in the House of Representatives are sounding the alarm after Republican Mayra Flores won a South Texas seat held almost exclusively by Democrats for more than 100 years on Tuesday.
Florez decisively defeated Democrat Dan Sanchez in a Tuesday runoff election that Republicans say is indicative of a new trend for Latino voters, while Democrats argue the election was just a fluke. Nevertheless, many Latino Democrats say their party has taken their voters for granted for too long.
“The DCCC needs to sit down and look at South Texas seriously,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, told Politico on Thursday. “I don’t think it’s a political realignment, but this should send a message to the DCCC… You can’t take Hispanics for granted, which they always do.”
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“I hope the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] learns their lesson with this before it happens across the country,” Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, said. “They have just forgotten about the Brown people on the border. And that’s basically what it is. I’m not going to try to sugarcoat it anymore. They are taking Latinos in South Texas for granted.”
Republicans are also capitalizing on Flores’ win, arguing it is just further evidence that the party is making headway with Latino voters after former President Donald Trump received historic support from the demographic in 2020.
“It’s a precursor of things that we think are to come in Hispanic communities across the country,” Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News on Thursday. “Democrats should be very, very worried about what we’re seeing with Hispanic voters.”
Some Democrats argue that Republican spending on Flores’ race was effort wasted on a merely symbolic victory, however. While Flores is now headed to Washington to represent Texas’ 34th Congressional District, that district has been redrawn to further favor Democrats in the November election.
Flores defeated Sanchez in a version of the 34th District that President Joe Biden carried by four points in 2020, but the new Republican-drawn version would have favored Biden by 15 points.
“Look, I think the Republicans spent millions of dollars to win a seat that’s going away. We’re going to win this seat when it matters,” Rep. Sean Maloney, D-N.Y., who also serves as chair of the DCCC, told Politico. “You never like to lose, and I understand why people were upset by that. I think Republicans burned a lot of money, and we’re going to end up with that seat.”
While Flores is settling into her office now, she will soon face an election against Gonzalez in November to determine the fate of the new 34th District.