Texas Republican Mayra Flores Fails to Hold Congressional Seat

Texas District 34 flips back to blue
By Darlene McCormick Sanchez
Darlene McCormick Sanchez
Darlene McCormick Sanchez
Darlene McCormick Sanchez reports for The Epoch Times from Texas. She writes on a variety of issues with a focus on Texas politics, election fraud, and the erosion of traditional values. She previously worked as an investigative reporter and covered crime, courts, and government for newspapers in Texas, Florida, and Connecticut. Her work on The Sinful Messiah series, which exposed Branch Davidians leader David Koresh, was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative reporting in the 1990s.
November 9, 2022Updated: November 10, 2022

WESLACO, Texas—Republican Rep. Mayra Flores has been defeated by Democratic challenger Vicente Gonzalez in Texas’ 34th Congressional District.

The Associated Press reported her Gonzalez had a total of 52.7 percent of the vote with 88 percent of the vote reported as of 2 a.m. ET. Flores held 44.3 percent of the vote.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” Flores said to a sedate crowd at her watch party in Weslaco, but added the votes weren’t adding up to her advantage.

“I can’t thank you enough. This has always been about God, family and hard work,” she said, though she did not formally concede the race.

Her challenger Gonzalez was confident he would beat Flores, telling The Epoch Times he didn’t think the polls reflected the support he was seeing in the district.

Gonzalez’s victory means the Rio Grande Valley will flip back to blue, but Flores made a strong showing in a district that was redrawn to favor a Democratic candidate.

Epoch Times Photo
U.S. Rep.Mayra Flores (R-Texas) stands with her family and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for a portrait after being sworn in in Washington on June 21, 2022. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

According to the University of Virginia Center for Politics, the new district lines for District 34 would have had Biden winning by more than 16 percentage points.

Republicans contend that Gonzalez fled the 15th District to the 34th, thinking it would be an easier race for a Democrat.

Epoch Times Photo
Democratic candidate Vicente Gonzalez for the 34th District stops by Burns elementary school in the final hours of the election Nov. 8. (Darlene McCormick Sanchez/The Epoch Times)

Meanwhile, voting was expected to be strong in District 34.

Remi Garza, election administrator for Cameron County, the district’s most populous county, told The Epoch Times the hotly contested congressional race had an excellent early voter turnout with more than 51,000 votes cast.

Garza expected between 27,000 and 30,000 to cast votes on election day, which would put the county of 219,000 registered voters in line with 2018 results.

District 34 currently includes Cameron, Willacy, Kenedy, Kleberg, Jim Wells, De Witt, and Bee and Goliad counties. It contains parts of Hidalgo, Gonzales, and San Patricio counties.

At Burns Elementary in Brownsville, Gonzalez showed up to encourage voters.

“We’re going to win,” Gonzalez said, adding he didn’t put a lot of faith in last-minute polling showing the district was leaning Republican.

Border Crisis

Voters who spoke with The Epoch Times said the border crisis was one of the most significant issues in the race.

Hilda Gomez said she was concerned about the border but voted Democratic anyway.

Alejandro Ramirez also said the border crisis was his No. 1 issue and hoped his vote for Flores would institute change. The other big motivator for him is the social justice agenda that’s showing up in education.

He said schools need to focus on math, reading, and writing instead of transgenderism, Critical Race Theory, and drag queen story hour.

“We are going to go with Mayra Flores,” Ramirez said.

Ricardo Gonzalez, an oil and gas industry retiree, said he came out to support Flores. He is concerned that good-paying jobs would dry up if the Democrats win and continue pushing green energy.

“We came because we don’t like the way things are going,” Gonzalez said. “Everything has gone up.”

Flores becomes the first Mexican-born woman to serve in Congress after winning a special election for the seat this summer.

She is a legal immigrant from Mexico who married a Border Patrol officer and campaigned to close the open border. Flores has accused Democrats of taking Latinos for granted and blames them for soaring food and gas prices.

She ran as a pro-life and pro-Second Amendment candidate who stands for God, family, and country, which she feels are values many Latinos share.

Her opponent, Gonzalez, switched congressional districts because the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature redrew the South Texas voter map, moving his McAllen home into District 34 from District 15.

Gonzalez ran on popular Democrat Party themes, such as free college and more accessible childcare through its pre-K initiative.

He’s more moderate on border issues. Gonzalez supports “compassionate” immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. As a Catholic, Gonzalez said he’s pro-life but believes in the separation of church and state.

Epoch Times Photo
A steady stream of voters showed up at Burns elementary school in Brownsville on Nov. 8, 2022. (Darlene McCormick Sanchez/The Epoch Times)

Republicans began focusing on South Texas after several traditionally Democratic counties voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020.

Zapata County, which borders Mexico, flipped red with 52.5 percent of the vote going to Trump in 2020. The same county overwhelmingly elected Democrat Hillary Clinton with 65.6 percent of the vote in 2016.

District 34 saw a shift but was still considered a blue district. In 2018, with a total of 143,068 votes cast in District 34, Democrat Filemon Vela walked away with 60 percent of the vote compared to 40 percent for Republican candidate Rey Gonzalez.

Republicans have poured time and money into the Flores campaign, hoping to capitalize on the shifting political landscape.

According to Open Secrets, Flores’s campaign has raised $3.8 million to Gonzalez’s $2.67 million.

Outside groups spent $1.8 million in support of Flores and $5.3 million in opposition, according to Open Secrets. Meanwhile, outside groups spent $363,000 in support of Gonzalez, compared to $6.2 million in opposition.

Darlene McCormick Sanchez reports for The Epoch Times from Texas. She writes on a variety of issues with a focus on Texas politics, election fraud, and the erosion of traditional values. She previously worked as an investigative reporter and covered crime, courts, and government for newspapers in Texas, Florida, and Connecticut. Her work on The Sinful Messiah series, which exposed Branch Davidians leader David Koresh, was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative reporting in the 1990s.