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Red Wave?: GOP Candidate Flips House Seat in a Region No Republican Has Won In for Over 150 Years

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If the current trends hold, Democrats can expect a thumping in the 2022 midterm elections.

And the election in Texas’ 34th Congressional district may have just given them even more reason for concern.

The state held a special election for the district in the wake of Rep. Filemon Vela’s (D) resignation in March. The New York Times notes that in the district’s 10-year history, residents there have never sent a Republican to Congress.

And in the Rio Grande Valley, no Republican candidate has been elected in 150 years.

But, on Tuesday, Republican Mayra Flores beat out Democrat Dan Sanchez with 51% of the vote, clearing the 50% requirement to avoid a run-off.

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Flores raised 16 times the amount of Sanchez and, along with her allies, spent over $1 million on television ads.

Her victory makes her the first Mexican-born Congresswoman.

“This historic win will bring back God to the halls of Congress! This win is for the people who were ignored for so long! This is a message that the establishment will no longer be tolerated! We have officially started the red wave,” she tweeted Tuesday night.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that Flores was the first Republican he voted for.

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However, due to redistricting, she will have to face Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D), who currently represents a neighboring district, in November.

Dave Wasserman of The Cook Political Report noted that the district Flores will run in in November is seen as much more favorable for Democrats.

“This special election was held under the old [Texas 34] lines, which are Biden +4. In November, she’ll face Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D) in the redrawn [Texas 34], which is Biden +15,” he explained.

Wasserman also pointed out that there was a really low turnout in this district.

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One potential bright spot for Flores is that she carried the most populous county in the district, which President Joe Biden won by 13 points in 2020.

Flores is sure to face an uphill battle to stay in Congress. But the good news for her is that by being in Congress, she’ll have some time to develop a record. Even if that record is just voting against the Democrats’ agenda, with several polls showing Biden’s support among Hispanic voters plunging, that probably can’t hurt her chances.

She’ll also definitely get a lot of attention and energy from her victory, especially from conservative media, and a chance to build up her profile and rake in campaign donations.

Whether or not that will translate into a victory in November is yet to be seen. However, Politico notes that the “dynamics have to be worrying to Democrats” as it points out Sanchez cast himself as a pro-life and “conservative Democrat,” and it wasn’t enough to keep the seat in Democrats’ hands.

Regardless of what happens in this race in November, Flores’ victory on Tuesday is likely to fuel some concerns among Democrats about the shift of Hispanic voters away from their party and toward Republicans.

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