Elections 2022Gov. Abbott Calls Special Emergency Election to Replace Vela in Texas’ 34th Congressional District

A special emergency election for the South Texas congressional district will be held in June.
April 4, 2022
After Rep. Filemon Vela’s (D-TX-34) abrupt resignation from Congress, Gov. Greg Abbott has called a special emergency election for Texas’ 34th Congressional District to be held on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Candidates who wish to run in the race must file with the secretary of state by Wednesday, April 13, and early voting in the contest will begin on Tuesday, May 31.

Similar to a situation in 2018, where Abbott used the Hurricane Harvey disaster declaration issued under the Texas Disaster Act to set a special election at an unusual date, Abbott is now citing the disaster declarations he has issued for the COVID-19 pandemic and the border crisis as the basis for the unusual timing of this election.

Unlike most other elections being held this year, the special election in this district will be based on the boundaries used in the previous election cycle since the winner will fill the remainder of Vela’s term through the end of the year.

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Under the old maps that will be used in the special election, the district leans slightly toward Democrats but is much more favorable to Republicans.

In 2020, the median vote in support of Democrats under the new boundaries was 60 percent. Under the boundaries that will be used in a special election, the median vote for Democrats was 54 percent.

While still leaning toward Democrats, South Texas has seen a strong shift toward Republicans in recent election cycles and the GOP has ramped up efforts to gain more representation in the region.

Another advantage that the GOP has over Democrats is that the nominee for the general election, Mayra Flores, has said that she plans to run in the special election, while the Democratic nominee is Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX-15), who currently represents a neighboring district and reportedly will not run in the special election.

“We have been working very hard in South Texas for years,” said Flores. “We had historic gains in the 2020 elections and will make history again in 2022! This special election is an opportunity for us to capture it in God’s name!”

Another Republican candidate in the race will be Gregory Scott Kunkle, Jr., who finished third with 11 percent of the vote in the GOP primary for the new district and announced he would be running again in the special election.

As far as a potential Democratic candidate, according to The Brownsville Herald, Vela said that he “heard [. . .] that Dan Sanchez, former [Cameron] county commissioner, is considering” a run for the seat in the special election.

Update: This article was updated to include a map of the district.


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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.