Voters in the historically blue Rio Grande Valley in Texas elected Republican Mayra Flores this week in a special congressional election that could signal a positive future for conservatives looking to break into what have long been considered Democrat strongholds.
Ever since Texas District 34’s creation in 2010, Democrats have controlled the area. Rep. Filemon Vela, who resigned from his seat earlier this year, had easily won re-election in the 84 percent Hispanic district in previous years. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the district by 21.5 percent. After that, in 2020, President Joe Biden won the district by 4.2 points.
So what changed for Democrats in the Rio Grande Valley in June of 2022?
For one, Hispanic Americans are rapidly turning to the Republican party, partially because of the GOP’s willingness to represent their true interests.
It’s not hard to make a case against the Democrats in charge right now with record-high gas prices, inflation, crime, and more plaguing Americans and their pocketbooks. But when it came to campaigning on the issues that matter to Texas voters in Brownsville, Alice, Beeville, Harlingen, Kingsville, and San Benito, Flores knew what mattered most.
Flores’ opponent Dan Sanchez tried to win over voters by convincing them that he is a “conservative Democrat” and “pro-life” Catholic. Those characterizations have traditionally appealed to the religious Democrat crowd in the RGV. Flores, however, harped on Biden’s border crisis, an issue close to home to the people in her community and her husband who works for Border Patrol, as a massive, out-of-control problem that deserves attention but isn’t getting it from anyone on the left.
“The RGV is under attack. Washington liberal policies are killing our community. Violent crime, human trafficking, and drugs coming across our border,” Flores said in her most recent campaign video. “To politicians, it’s just a game. But we are the ones who are suffering.”
“Mayra was able to flip this district because she focused on issues that affect all voters’ lives (border security, crime, and rising costs) while Democrats focused on far-left issues,” a National Republican Congressional Committee memo stated.
Doing something about the U.S.-Mexico border crisis isn’t just a winning issue for the people living next to it, though. Especially as midterms quickly approach, it’s a priority for many American voters, who are living with the consequences of the crisis like record-high national drug overdoses.
A Fox News poll conducted last week found that at least 58 percent of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the border crisis.
As Biden’s approval rating continues on its downward spiral, Democrats are faced with a difficult decision. Leftist candidates can risk the party’s attempts to appear unified by distancing themselves from the administration ahead of the midterms or they can try to defend Biden’s terrible track record, a feat not even his own press secretary can pull off in front of the overly-friendly press corps.
What will it take for Democrats to realize their deliberate silence on the border is deafening to communities once considered blue strongholds?
In May, Biden’s border crisis yielded the highest number of arrests ever recorded, at 239,416. Since the beginning of the 2022 fiscal year in October, border officials have logged at least 1.5 million arrests. That sharp increase in apprehensions puts the U.S. on track to see more than 2 million arrests at the Southwest border by the end of the fiscal year in September, less than two months before midterms.
Will the border crisis be the sole reason Democrats lose in the midterms, especially when inflation, crime, and a supply chain crisis are ravaging Americans’ daily lives? Definitely not. But Biden’s border crisis is a big issue for many Americans who are less than pleased with an unsecured perimeter.
Unless Democrats magically start addressing the national security threat on the Southwest border, they are risking not just seats in border states, but losses spanning from coast to coast.