Following former President Donald Trump’s spearheading of the GOP’s historic gains among Hispanic voters nationwide in the 2020 general election, Republicans drafted a wide slate of candidates to challenge Democrat incumbents in South Texas for the federal offices, the Texas Legislature, and local county offices.
After a long two years of campaigning for the Hispanic vote in South Texas, Republicans did not see the large number of victories they hoped for, but South Texas voters have responded by sending new Republicans to state and federal office.
While Gov. Greg Abbott (R) did not win any of the four Rio Grande Valley counties, he staged his election watch party in McAllen, Texas. In his celebratory speech, he stated that his campaign planted its flag in South Texas to show the world that “South Texas is turning Republican.” Abbott improved his performance from 2018 in Hidalgo and Starr counties, and he won Kennedy and Zapata counties outright (counties that are north of Willacy and Starr).
Here are some highlights of the election results in the RGV and South Texas:
Most eyes in the nation were trained on the three congressional offices in South Texas, a trio that became a battleground for not only power in the House of Representatives but for the Latino vote itself. Republicans drafted three women, Cassy Garcia, Monica De La Cruz, and Rep. Mayra Flores (R–Los Indios) to challenge Rep. Henry Cuellar (D–Laredo), Michelle Vajello, and Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D–McAllen) in the 28th, 15th, and 34th Congressional Districts, respectively.
Monica De La Cruz won her race for the open 15th Congressional District of Texas, a Republican flip, making history as the first ever Republican to represent the district, which is seated in McAllen. “I want it to be known our victory tonight is not just a win for Republicans, it is a win for all of South Texans y para todos nosotros,” said De La Cruz.
However, Rep. Mayra Flores (R–Los Indios), who won a special election this summer in a GOP flip, lost her re-election to Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D–McAllen), who switched districts.
- 28th Congressional District
- Cassy Garcia (R): 43%
- Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo): 56%
- 15th Congressional District
- Monica De La Cruz (R): 53%
- Michelle Vajello (D): 44%
- 34th Congressional District
- Rep. Mayra Flores (R-Los Indios): 44%
- Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen): 52%
2022 featured one of the GOP’s largest slates of Republican candidates for the Texas House and Senate.
State Rep. Ryan Guillen (R–Rio Grande City), a former Democrat who switched parties, won re-election as a Republican. In Cameron County, Republican Janie Lopez won her race for the open state House seat in HD-37 left by Rep. Alex Domínguez (D–Brownsville). As a result, the Rio Grande Valley will have two Republican state representatives in the state House for the first time.
Democrat Morgan LaMantia appeared to have a razor-thin margin of victory over Republican Adam Hinojosa to replace outgoing State Sen. Eddie Lucio (D–Brownsville), a conservative pro-life Democrat who voted for numerous priorities of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R). The race appears to be in recount territory, with LaMantia ahead by around 500 votes.
- House District 31
- State Rep. Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City): 71%
- Martha Gutierrez (D): 29%
- House District 35
- Oscar Rosa (R): 35%
- State Rep. Oscar Longoria (D-Mission): 64%
- House District 37
- Janie Lopez (R): 51%
- Ruben Cortez (D): 48%
- House District 39
- Jimmie Garcia (R): 35%
- State Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco): 64%
- House District 41
- John “Doc” Robert Guerra (R): 43%
- State Rep. Bobby Guerra (D-Mission): 56%
- Senate District 20
- Westley Wright (R): 40%
- State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen): 59%
- Senate District 21
- Julie Dahlberg (R): 35%
- State Sen. Judith Zaffirni (D-Laredo): 61%
- Senate District 27
- Adam Hinojosa (R): 49.84%
- Morgan LaMantia (D): 50.16%
The GOP and groups like Project Red TX helped draft a wide slate of candidates for local races in the RGV, including candidates for county judge in all four counties and the first Republican in decades to run for criminal district attorney in Hidalgo County. Ultimately, however, it appears all races went to the Democrats. Results for Willacy and Starr counties are still outstanding.
- County Judge – Hidalgo County
- Esmeralda Flores (R): 36%
- Ricardo “Richard” F. Cortez (D): 63%
- County Judge – Cameron County
- Carlos Cascos (R): 47%
- Eddie Trevino, Jr. (D): 52%
- Criminal District Attorney – Hidalgo County
- Juan Tijerina (R): 39%
- Toribio “Terry” Palacios (D): 60%