Elections 2022FederalVicente Gonzalez Staves Off GOP Blitz, Defeating Mayra Flores for South Texas Congressional Seat

Republicans' high expectations deflated in South Texas when Democrats walked away with the seat in an incumbent-on-incumbent race.
November 9, 2022
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Withstanding a GOP blitz, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX-15) defeated Congresswoman Mayra Flores (R-TX-34) in the clash of incumbents in South Texas.

Gonzalez made a calculated gamble which paid off Tuesday night, jumping from his current 15th Congressional District to the 34th after redistricting made the former GOP-favorable and the latter Democrat-favorable.

When the dust settled, Gonzalez posted an eight-point, 11,000-vote margin over Flores — knocking off the brief incumbent. He won the district’s two largest counties, all of Cameron and a portion of Hidalgo.

“The people of South Texas have spoken,” he said in a statement on election night. “They have chosen someone with a track record of bringing vital resources to South Texas. I hope all of us can come together and work for the betterment of all South Texans and Americans, regardless of political affiliation.”

Gonzalez secured his fourth term in Congress with the potential to move back into the minority as Republicans appear poised to win a narrow majority in the U.S. House.

The Texan Tumbler

Flores won the special election for the old district in June in an upset that had Republicans foaming at the mouth for the general. But despite pumping in loads of money and manpower, the D-63% Texas Partisan Index advantage was too much to overcome, even though Flores halved it on Tuesday night.

“Thank you to every single person that invested in our campaign,” Flores said in a statement Wednesday morning. “Thank you to every single person that put their love, sweat and tears into this community. They know who they are and I will always remain grateful to them.”

But the previous night, she posted a postmortem take on the election across Texas and the country: “The RED WAVE did not happen. Republicans and Independents stayed home. DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE RESULTS IF YOU DID NOT DO YOUR PART!”

Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi remarked on the 34th Congressional District results, saying on Twitter, “Drawing [Congressional District 34] to be a D+15 district was an absolute waste of [Mayra] Flores’ talent [and] House leadership made a bad call in giving her the short straw in redistricting.”

“She has a bright future and I’m confident will be back in the fight soon enough.”

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa spiked the proverbial football, remarking on the South Texas congressional results: “After years of national and state media frantically writing about how Democrats are supposedly losing the Hispanic vote in South Texas… and Texas Republicans redrawing the lines of the districts to make them more favorable to their party… and D.C. Republicans flooding our region with tens of millions of dollars in dark money and unending misinformation and bad-faith, misleading TV advertisements… we now see that 2020 was, in fact, a fluke.”

He even disputed the GOP’s claim of a resounding victory in the 15th Congressional District — the only one of the three South Texas districts Republicans won — saying, “Tonight, Texas Republicans will tell you that picking up TX-15 shows that they’re gaining ground with Hispanics in South Texas. Let me be clear: that’s complete bullshit.”

This race was emblematic of the election writ large across the country: Republicans gained some ground but came up short of their high hopes for a red wave.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.