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Democrats in the Rio Grande Valley are scrambling to make up for lost time after U.S. Representative Vicente Gonzalez D-McAllen decided to run for re-election in another district, leaving a seat vacant in what should be the race for the election. Most Competitive Congress in the State Next year.
With less than a month and a half to go to the candidate filing deadline, Democrats are sorting out their options for a primary that had been an afterthought given the perception that Gonzalez would remain in the 15th Congressional District.
But during this year’s redistribution process, Texas lawmakers redesigned the state’s congressional maps to strengthen their grip on power. They made the 15th District more competitive and drew Gonzalez’s home to the neighboring 34th Congressional District. Many Republicans have already rallied around Monica De La Cruz, who gave Gonzalez a surprisingly close run last year and quickly made a comeback offer.
At least two Democrats have declared themselves for the 15th District as it became increasingly predictable that Gonzalez would bail out a candidate for reelection, but recruiting is only just beginning.
Civic engagement group LUPE Votes is launching what it describes as a “people-powered nomination process” – called We the Pueblo – on Monday to find a candidate the political organization can champion. The group, whose priorities include Medicare for All and a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, is urging residents of the 15th District to nominate someone who “shares the values ââof working Texans,” said Dani Marrero Hi, porte – speech by LUPE Votes. She said the group was looking for someone intimately familiar with these struggles and not “the top 1% of the valley.”
“We are fed up with establishment Democrats making promise after promise every year and then leave or abandon the district, as Vicente Gonzalez does, when times get tough,” said Marrero Hi. “When they do thatâ¦ it leaves our region vulnerable to Republicans who come and write our history.”
Republicans are targeting the 15th District more than ever, eager to capitalize on President Joe Biden’s underperformance in South Texas last year. And the GOP-led redistribution process put the 15th District even more within reach for Republicans, transforming it from a district Biden lost by 2 percentage points to one Donald Trump would have won by 3 points.
It didn’t take long after the release of the first Congressional map proposal for Gonzalez to say he would consider moving to neighboring 34th District, where U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, retires and the landscape. was designed to be more pro-Democrats. Vela backed the move, and then a Democratic Ã la carte amendment moved Gonzalez’s house to the 34th arrondissement, making the change almost guaranteed before Gonzalez officially announced it on Tuesday.
The Congressional Democratic campaign committee, the campaign arm of House Democrats, had appointed Gonzalez a frontline member in the 15th District, a designation reserved for the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents. The committee says the siege remains a priority after Gonzalez’s change.
“The DCCC will fight until election day to make sure this district stays in Democratic hands,” DCCC spokeswoman Monica Robinson said in a statement for the story.
Some groups like the DCCC were unable to recruit for the seat despite Gonzalez running for reelection there, but they are optimistic about the initial phase of recruiting.
The clock is turning. While disputes over the new cards could postpone the primary, the secretary of state’s office confirmed last week that the filing period was still to start on November 13 and end on December 13.
Daniel Diaz, organizing director of the LUPE, admitted that their efforts “will have to go rather quickly”. LUPE Votes plans to keep its nomination process open for 20 days.
In an interview on Friday, Alvarado said the 2020 results were a “call to action” and Democrats were “absolutely” catching up with Gonzalez’s decision.
“I think we knew it was going to happen, but that didn’t mean we were sure it was going to happen,” Alvarado said. âIt is certain that accelerating and having to make up for lost time is something that is going to be very important. I hope this race catches the attention of the National Partyâ¦ and the State Party, and that they invest money in this race because it is really important. Hidalgo County has been the Democratic stronghold since the 1800s, and it is something that will not be abandoned lightly.
Still, discussing how Democrats can keep the Blue Light District after the 2020 shock, Alvarado said they need to show they can work with Republicans, “and we need to understand the issues that matter to them.” . She specifically referred to the concerns of farmers and ranchers in rural areas of the valley, and she said she believed her educational background had a bipartisan appeal.
Gonzalez’s decision isn’t just causing upheaval on the Democratic side of the race. In a fundraising email on Friday, De La Cruz prepared his supporters for a more crowded contest now that the new Congress card has the force of law.
âThe Democrats will launch campaigns with the idea in mind that they can take this seat for the Democrats – who have held it for 118 years; and Republicans are entering the primary against me now that the easier way is to switch that seat to red for the first time since 1903, “De La Cruz wrote, adding that” the point is that I am the only Republican these days. last time. memory that even almost defeated a Democrat in this district. “
With the support of the Republican National Committee of Congress, the leadership of the House of Representatives and high-profile Republicans in the state, De La Cruz was able to keep his primary clear until recently. As it became increasingly clear that Gonzalez would be switching districts, at least two other Republicans jumped in: Mauro Garza, a former congressional candidate from the San Antonio area, and Ryan Krause, the former opponent. de La Cruz in the second round of the 2020 primary for the 15. Quarter.
In announcing his candidacy, Garza’s campaign described him as “a longtime South Texas resident with a home in McAllen” – and sought to deflate De La Cruz’s favorite status a bit. The campaign said Garza had $ 365,000 in cash, calling him “not far from his Republican opponent Monica de la Cruz who announced just months after her loss in 2020”. De La Cruz had $ 422,000 in the bank as of September 30. More than half of the $ 300,000 in revenue Garza reported in the third quarter was from loans to himself.