Texas GOP Creates Door-to-Door Pickup Opportunity in Hispanic District
A predominantly Hispanic congressional district in South Texas that was a Democratic stronghold until the 2020 election has come out of redistribution as the state’s only battlefield district and a test case for Republicans.
The GOP is considering the 15th District, which stretches from near San Antonio to the southern populated county of Hidalgo on the US-Mexico border, after making surprising gains in the heavily Hispanic Rio Grande valley in 2020 that eroded the long-standing domination of the Democratic Party.
The race for the open seat in 2022 will indicate whether the Republican push was one-off or whether the party can maintain its gains.
“This is an opportunity Republicans haven’t seen in a while,” said Matt Langston, a Texas-based Republican strategist.
According to the current Texas congressional card, the 15th voted for Hillary Clinton by 17 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election, then backed Joe Biden by just 2 points in 2020. Under the redrawn card, Governor Greg Abbott (right) enacted the law on Monday, the reconfigured 15th would have voted for Donald Trump by 3 points.
While the new and the current 15th are both 81% Hispanic, the new district is more Republican-friendly after mapmakers made changes, including replacing more Democratic parts of Hidalgo County with slightly less pro parts. -Biden.
Democrats are challenging the card in court.
No Republican in the current 117th Congress represents a district as strongly Hispanic as the new 15th. Helping Republicans’ quest to win it in 2022 is that Rep. Vicente González (D), who was reelected between 51% and 48% in 2020, is running next door in the 34th arrondissement, an area more favorable to Democrats where Rep. Filemon Vela (D) is not seeking re-election. A late change to the Texas map moved Gonzalez’s house to District 34.
The leading Republican candidate in the 15th is Monica De La Cruz, a businesswoman who nearly toppled Gonzalez in 2020 and declared $ 422,000 in cash as of September 30. Ryan Krause, who lost to De La Cruz in the second round of the 2020 Republican primaries, filed documents with the Federal Election Commission on Monday to run for re-election.
Democratic candidates include Ruben Ramirez, a lawyer and military veteran who served in Afghanistan and received the Bronze Star, and Eliza Alvarado, who works for a regional education services center and was previously an assistant to the Gonzalez’s predecessor, Rubén Hinojosa (D).
Without Gonzalez, “Democrats are starting from scratch to run a candidate and raise money in this district,” said Dave Wasserman, editor of The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.
How the GOP made gains
How Republicans improved in the Rio Grande Valley in the 2020 election is still a topic of discussion and debate. But Democratic and Republican officials and independent political analysts have pointed to statements by Democratic politicians about the oil and gas industry, a major employer in South Texas.
During a 2020 presidential debate with Trump, Biden’s comment that “I would move out of the oil industry” to tackle climate change drew unwanted attention.
Biden’s statement “was to have a negative effect on the vote in South Texas,” said Norma Ramirez, president of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party. “Almost every family in South Texas has someone who works in the industry and is the breadwinner. Candidate Biden’s comments on the oil and gas industry during the presidential debate were not helpful.
Clyde Barrow, a political scientist at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburgh, cited a “massive expansion of the border-industrial complex,” including an influx of thousands of other state and police officers. immigration. “They vote for their jobs,” he said.
Barrow also said that Hispanics in South Texas tend to have a culturally conservative streak and are “not liberal by any stretch of the imagination.”
Langston said the Trump campaign was specifically targeting voters in the region with a “face-to-face message that was constantly there.” He said Republicans should focus on recruiting candidates who can “speak to the community without barriers” and on creating locally targeted campaign messages that don’t “get dragged into the national melee.”
In Hidalgo County, which represents 75% of the population of the redesigned 15th District, Ramirez said Democrats “redoubled their efforts” after Republicans performed better than expected due to Biden’s comments on the industry oil and gas, Democrats withdrew in person. efforts to exit the vote during the coronavirus pandemic and the 2018 election of a county judge who ran as a Democrat but supported the Texas Republicans.
“We are educating candidates state and nationwide about the unique political culture of South Texas and will continue to work harder for GOTV, including improving voter registration and canvassing,” said Ramirez.
With the help of Jonathan Hurtarte
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at [email protected]