On November 13, Hidalgo County GOP met for its final executive committee meeting of the year. They signed up precinct chairs, discussed the budget, filing deadlines for candidates, and lastly the future of Hidalgo County GOP.

Within discussion at the meeting, HCGOP Chairman Sergio Sanchez stressed the importance of recruiting a Republican candidate for Texas House District 41 – as they have yet to find one.

House District 41 is the heart of Hidalgo County and the epicenter of the three major towns: McAllen, Edinburg, and Mission. HD 41 is also believed to be the most conservative district within the Rio Grande Valley. The only chance of adding a spot of red in a blue region.

According to the Republican Party of Texas, this area is a winnable district, as the numbers look favorable to a Republican challenger. However, at this moment the Republican ticket looks bleak, as third-term incumbent State Rep. Bobby Guerra (D-McAllen) has yet to draw any opposition.

The previous two elections, the Republican Party produced two candidates for this race. Last year, during the presidential cycle, Hilda Garza DeShazo ran a clean campaign and lost by almost 6,000 votes. Previously, in 2014 during a gubernatorial cycle, Elijah Casas lost by a mere 3,000 votes.

Texas Scorecard reached out to Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey for comment on the race for HD 41.

“We as a party are absolutely interested in having qualified candidates in every race possible. We believe in the value of competition to provide the best possible result. We need good candidates running in every single district. This also includes providing a good base of support for every candidate, for that reason we are even more concerned in that district [HD 41]. We have not yet seen any candidates. We see a real value in the efforts of Gov. Abbott as well as other local candidates. I believe the RPT has a real good chance in that area [due to border security].”

This election cycle, numbers are favorable for the Republican ticket throughout, given that it’s a gubernatorial election year. For the Rio Grande Valley, though, the Republican Party has failed to provide any state House candidates, most potentials have joined the battlefield for McAllen City Councilman District 1. Running are attorney (and former HD 41 candidate) Javier Villalobos, Dr. Joseph M. Caparusso, and businessman Tim Wilkins.

Adding to the discontent within the local party, GOP Chairman Sergio Sanchez announced at the end of Monday’s meeting that he will not be seeking re-election next year as party chair.

Sanchez explained, “It’s time for new leadership, and time to segue our strongest club (Hidalgo County Young Republicans) to apply their ideas and grow our party.”

Kevin Ramsey, Hidalgo County GOP Parliamentarian, commented in regards to Sanchez’s leadership, “Sergio has the best fundraising output of all previous chairs, as the Hidalgo County GOP has stayed open year-round, even during off-season.” He also attributed the highest number of Republican primary voters in the history of the county during this past presidential election to Sanchez, although many believe the turnout has more to do with President Donald Trump’s inclusion on the ballot.

This year, the RGV has received multiple visits from the governor and Mrs. Abbott in their efforts to turn the “bluest part” of Texas red. During a “Super Saturday Block Walk” in McAllen this summer, Abbott stated, “My goal is to ensure that in my lifetime, that the Rio Grande Valley is going to be voting Republican every single election.”

Placing an emphasis on this region – a region that is ground-zero for border security – the Republican Party is seeking potential candidates to run within the conservative-leaning region. So far, no viable candidates are in sight.

With less than two weeks until the December 11 filing deadline, the window is rapidly closing.

Will there be a Republican on the ballot for Texas House District 41, or will the seat go unchallenged? And if left unchallenged, what does this mean for the future of Hidalgo County GOP?

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.