Republican Mayra Flores accomplished a feat on Tuesday that Democrats only wish they could imitate.
Flores won a special election for Texas’ 34th congressional district, defeating Democrat Dan Sanchez 51% to 43%. She will assume office this month and will only hold the seat until January. She is the Republican nominee for the general election in November.
Flores’ victory is historically significant for several reasons.
First, Flores is the first Mexican-born woman to win election to Congress; she was born in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which borders the United States.
Second, and most important, Flores’ victory substantiates a growing theory that Hispanic Americans are departing the Democratic Party in droves. Texas’ 34th congressional district is majority Hispanic, and that region has been dominated by Democrats for 150 years, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Compounding the significance of Flores’ victory is the fact that just 10 years ago, then-President Barack Obama won the 34th district by a whopping 23 points over Mitt Romney. In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried the district by 22 points over Donald Trump. But cracks in Democrats’ support in south Texas appeared in 2020 when President Joe Biden won the district by just four points.
In fact, Flores flipped many counties that supported Democrats by even greater margins in previous elections.
The seat was vacated by Democrat Filemón Vela on March 31. Vela retired from Congress to work for a lobbying group, but his departure from Congress was evidence that he saw the groundswell of Republican support in south Texas.
The election on Tuesday confirmed those suspicions.
What did the candidates say?
After she won election, Flores promised her new constitutents to actually represent their interests — not take them for granted.
“For over 100 years, we have been taken for granted,” she said, the Texas Tribune reported. “I will show you what real representation looks like. I will represent all people.”
Meanwhile, Sanchez blamed his loss on national Democrats not supporting him.
“Based on the results, we came up short tonight despite being outspent by millions of dollars from out of state interests and the entire Republican machine,” he said. “Too many factors were against us, including little to no support from the National Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”