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Latino Democrats in the House of Representatives are sounding the alarm after Republican Mayra Flores on Tuesday won a South Texas seat held almost exclusively by Democrats for more than 100 years.
Florez decisively defeated Democrat Dan Sánchez in a Tuesday runoff election that Republicans say indicates a new trend for Latino voters, while Democrats argue the election was just a fluke. Still, many Latino Democrats say their party has taken their voters for granted for too long.
“The DCCC needs to sit down and take a serious look at South Texas,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from 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 that [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] learn the lesson with this before it happens across the country,” said Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat from Texas. “They have just forgotten about the brown people at the border. And that’s basically what it is. I’m not going to try to sugarcoat it any more. They are taking Latinos for granted in South Texas.”
Republicans are also capitalizing on Flores’ win, arguing it’s just more evidence the party is making inroads with Latino voters after former President Donald Trump received historic demographic support in 2020.
“It’s a precursor to things that we think are coming in Hispanic communities across the country,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox News on Thursday. “Democrats should be very, very concerned about what we’re seeing with Hispanic voters.”
However, some Democrats argue that the Republicans’ spending on the Flores race was wasted effort on a merely symbolic victory. While Flores now heads to Washington to represent Texas’s 34th Congressional District, that district has been redrawn to further favor Democrats in the November election.
Flores defeated Sánchez in a version of the 34th District that President Joe Biden won by four points in 2020, but the new Republican version would have favored Biden by 15 points.
“Look, I think Republicans spent millions of dollars to win a seat that’s going to go away. We’ll win this seat when it matters,” said Rep. Sean Maloney, DN.Y., who also serves as chairman of the DCCC. he told Politico. “You never like to lose, and I understand why people were upset about that. I think the Republicans burned through a lot of money and we’re going to kill that seat.”
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While Flores is settling into his office now, he will soon face an election against Gonzalez in November to determine the fate of the new 34th District.