The last-minute, mysterious, outrageous texts falsely claiming that a Texas Republican had been endorsed by a former Democratic rival did not work. Rep. Mayra Flores lost reelection to Texas' 34th Congressional District on Tuesday night, trailing Democrat Vicente Gonzalez by more than eight points as of Wednesday morning.
Flores had flipped the seat just this past June, in the special election that followed the retirement of Democratic Rep. Filemón Vela. House Republicans led by Kevin McCarthy had touted the victory, including holding an event on the steps of Congress that bordered on tokenism and boasted that Flores’ win in the heavily-Latino region was “a referendum” on supposed “radical policies” by Democrats.
But McCarthy and pals had basically counted their chickens before they hatched, because redistricting made Flores’ district far bluer. In fact, Daily Kos Elections had called her “the most endangered Republican incumbent in 2022.”
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“Gonzalez had been seen as a shoo-in because the 34th District was made more Democratic, but Flores waged an aggressive, well-financed campaign that kept the race close heading into the election,” NBC News reported. During his victory speech Tuesday evening, Gonzalez slammed tactics waged by Republicans, The Texas Tribune reported.
“They spent over $7 million against us, spewing lies and hate and disinformation,” he said in remarks reported by the outlet. “Even with these large investments, we showed the Republican Party that South Texas is not their home.”
One clearly political tactic by Flores herself was a stunt that used a rejection from Democrats’ Congressional Hispanic Caucus to draw outrage, and paint Democrats as being intolerant of a conservative, immigrant Latina. Absolute tomfoolery. The origins of a second tactic, the mysterious text messages, are unknown, but absolutely dirty. Those texts falsely claimed that Flores’ Democratic opponent in the special election, Dan Sanchez, had endorsed her. But this is a lie. “I’m hundred percent behind Vicente,” Sanchez told The Monitor. “These are lies from the Mayra camp.” Valley Central reported that he’s considering legal action over the false texts.
“When I talked with Mayra Flores, it was clear that, more than any issue, she was motivated by a deep opposition to abortion,” immigration reporter Jack Herrera commented. “Her loss tonight is more evidence—backed by polling on the issue—that Latinos in South Texas want abortion rights.”
Polling this past summer from states including Texas found that Latino respondents were firmly in support of abortion rights. Gonzalez voted in favor of the Women's Health Protection Act of 2021, which would protect the federal right to abortion. Flores was not yet in Congress. She did vote against the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022, which would establish the right to travel across state lines for reproductive health care. Gonzalez supported it.
“The people of South Texas have spoken,” Gonzalez said in a statement posted on his Twitter account. “They have chosen someone with a track record of bringing vital resources to South Texas. I look forward to representing the people of the 34th Congressional District of Texas and working to continue delivering for 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,” he continued. “It is on all of us to ensure we hold up the work of those who have come before us and that we leave a better America for those who come after.” In a much less dignified statement, Flores blamed her voters for her loss. “The RED WAVE did not happen,” she tweeted (all caps hers). “Republicans and Independents stayed home. DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE RESULTS IF YOU DID NOT DO YOUR PART!”
Who sent the fake texts lying about a House Republican getting endorsed by her former opponent?
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