On Monday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) began his South Texas tour, making three stops along the Rio Grande: Harlingen, Mission, and Laredo. He was accompanied by Texas State Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R–Lakeway), U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (Utah), and RGV President for the National Border Patrol Council, Paul Perez.

“God bless Texas! God bless the RGV!” Cruz began as he addressed large audiences in Harlingen and Mission.

Cruz’s morning rally in Harlingen was his first visit to the area this election cycle and drew thousands of supporters, many sporting “Make America Great Again” apparel and holding “Build the Wall” signs. The rally had to change venues after maxing out capacity at the original facility. Over 2,000 attended the event at Christian Fellowship Church with standing room only.

Cruz asked for a show of hands from those born of legal immigrants and who had “walked away” from the Democratic party. At least 100 hands raised.

In his speech in Harlingen, Cruz recognized the Vega family and gave his condolences. Cruz emphasized border security and its importance in protecting American lives. He recognized Javier Vega Jr., a former U.S. Border Patrol agent who made headlines in 2014 after he attempted to stop a car robbery and was killed by illegal immigrants in front of his family. Vega’s father was also shot during the brawl.

Records revealed that both illegals who killed Vega had been deported several times for entering the country illegally and had served light prison sentences with a $10 fine.

Cruz also mentioned he was proud to pass legislation to rename the Sarita Customs and Border Patrol checkpoint after Vega Jr., and highlighted how he was the only senator to receive the full endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council.

In an exclusive interview with Cruz at the end of the Mission rally, Texas Scorecard asked what he thought of the efforts to turn the RGV red.

“The values that resonate with the Hispanic community are faith, family, patriotism, and the American dream,” began Cruz. “I think what Hispanics want in Texas is the same thing everyone else wants: we want jobs, we want more jobs, we want higher wages, we want more opportunities, we want our families to be safe and secure.”

Cruz’s rallies presented a stark contrast to his opponent’s. Unlike Robert Francis O’Rourke, also known as “Beto,” Cruz did not need to host a free concert or a comedian to draw a large crowd.

Early voting is still underway across the state and the Rio Grande Valley, like many parts of the state, has experienced record-high early voting turnout.

Early voting ends Friday, November 2, with Election Day on Tuesday, November 6.

Miriam Cepeda

Miriam Cepeda is the Rio Grande Valley Bureau Chief for Texas Scorecard. A second-generation Mexican American, she is both fluent in English and Spanish and has been influential in grassroots organizing and conservative engagement within Hispanic communities. If you don’t find her “Trumping”, you can find her saving animals, running her dog, hiking the Andes, or volunteering with the U.S. National Park Service.


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