Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Texas), whose political Cinderella story made her the first Mexican-born woman to serve in Congress, isn’t feeling any love from the left.
Flores ran on a conservative platform of God, family, and country in a special election to flip Texas’s 34th Congressional District red for the first time in more than a century.
On July 6, The New York Times labeled her and two other South Texas Latina candidates as “far-right.”
“It amazes me that because my values are rooted in God, family, and country, the liberal media takes it upon themselves to attack me and label me ‘far-right,'” she said in a statement posted on Twitter. “But at least they used the word ‘Latina’ over their other made-up terms. Seguimos Adelante!”
The newspaper highlighted social media posts asserting Flores’s belief that Donald Trump had won reelection in 2020 and that President Joe Biden should be impeached. The article questioned her use of QAnon hashtags in the past. It noted her pro-life conservative views and that her pastor appeared at her swearing-in.
Flores has denied any connection with QAnon.
She has brushed off the criticism and is sticking to her platform, where she openly says, “Make America Godly Again.”
That phrase is the key to understanding how Flores’s path took her to the halls of Congress from the cotton fields of Texas.
She told The Epoch Times that her faith became the driving force behind her decision to run for Congress, although she had little political experience.
“It played the biggest role for me,” Flores said. “I feel our values are being lost. So for me, it was really about God.”
She wants to “take Jesus to Congress” and believes that people need to stand up and not fear criticism for their faith. She believes that people are hungry to hear about God and want to see prayer put back into the classroom.
“We are in so much of a mess because we have put God aside,” she said.
Flores, of Harlingen, won a special election in the heavily Hispanic Rio Grande Valley, with 51 percent of the vote, while her main Democratic rival, Dan Sanchez, received 43 percent. She’ll finish the term of Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), who resigned to work for Akin Gump, a Washington law and lobbying firm.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, called for a special election to fill the vacancy left by Vela.
Flores hopes to win a full term in Congress in November by defeating Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), who’s switching districts because the Republican-led Texas Legislature redrew the South Texas voter map, moving his McAllen, Texas, home to the state’s 34th Congressional District from the 15th Congressional District.
But the midterm election stands to be a more challenging race for Flores, given that the redrawn 34th District is much more favorable for a Democratic win.
Gonzalez is running on some popular Democratic themes, such as free college and pre-K.
He’s more moderate on border issues. He supports “compassionate” immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, but remains committed to the health and safety of the people he’s sworn to represent.
As a Catholic, Gonzalez said he’s pro-life, but believes in the separation of church and state, according to an article in The Hill.
His campaign hasn’t responded to a request for an interview.
Flores’s celebrity status as a Latina Republican has Democrats pushing back and vowing to put the muscle of their political machine to work into flipping the seat back to blue.
Gonzalez recently told Newsweek that Flores was an “unqualified” opponent and a pawn of the Republican Party.
But Flores is keeping the faith—literally. From the beginning, she has turned to City Church in Harlingen and Pastor Luis Cabrera for support.
So, it stands to reason that Cabrera became a major player in her decision to run for office. Eventually, the church would serve as her headquarters.
Cabrera told The Epoch Times that he met Flores during the Trump train rallies in South Texas in 2020. His group set up a tent and prayed for the participants. Flores started attending his church, and on Easter 2021, Cabrera baptized her.
He said he remembers the day Flores told him she was running for Congress and wanted him to be her campaign manager. He told her that he couldn’t take the job, but ended up accompanying Flores on the campaign trail to pray for her and the volunteers.
Cabrera, who has been preaching that the United States needs to be Godly again, was happy that Flores carried the mantle into her campaign. It dawned on him that electing candidates of faith is a way of returning the country to God.
Throughout her campaign, people tried to talk her out of using God in her platform, but she stood firm, he said.
At one point, Flores was doubtful about her prospects in the new 34th District, which is heavily Democratic. The Biblical story of David and Goliath came to mind, Cabrera said, and he saw her through that time of uncertainty.
He said churches and Christians across the country need to get involved in politics. He said millions of Christian voters didn’t turn out in 2020.
Cabrera said the crowning moment of his venture into politics was when he stood on the stage when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) swore in Flores.
“I shook her hand and said,’ Madam Speaker, we’re going to take this country back for God.’ And her reaction was priceless. She didn’t know what to say.”