Before Flores won her district Tuesday, President Joe Biden carried it by 4 points over Donald Trump in 2020 — a huge shift from the previous presidential elections under these district lines, when Trump in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2012 were blown out by 20-plus points each.
While Flores grew up seeing most of her immigrant family vote blue, she eventually realized her views on religion, abortion and border security were more in line with the Republican Party. She got involved with her local party five years ago, she told POLITICO.
“For so long, people here just never had Republicans knocking on their doors and calling them the way we did in 2020. The majority of us are women that did it then and are doing it now because we feel it’s our responsibility to keep the American Dream alive,” Flores said in February.
Flores is part of a larger movement of GOP Latinas from South Texas who are building on the party’s recent gains and vying for congressional seats this year, including Monica De La Cruz and Cassy Garcia, who won nominations for two other potential swing districts in the Rio Grande Valley earlier this year.
Flores’ special election became a rallying point for local Republicans eager to make more gains later in 2022. Flores had far outraised her fellow special election candidates, plastering the airwaves with TV and digital advertisements in the month leading up to Tuesday’s vote. Many ads focused on her marriage to a Border Patrol agent and her achievement of “the American Dream.” Others criticized Biden for not controlling the border.
The RNC had also put down a tangible footprint in the area, opening up four engagement centers in heavily Hispanic regions in Texas to connect with community members.
“It’s unprecedented what we’re seeing because prior to 2020 we didn’t have this kind of support at all,” Flores said in February. “I can only imagine how much more we’re going to be able to do with their support.”
While Republicans have made gains in Flores’ region, Democrats still have support there. And in November, Flores will face current Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen, in a district drawn to be much more Democratic.
But for now, state Republican leaders including Gov. Greg Abbott and state House Speaker Dade Phelan, who both supported Flores’ campaign, tweeted celebratory remarks at flipping the seat.
“Congresswoman-Elect Mayra Flores and the people of Texas have a message for Joe Biden,” Flores tweeted on Tuesday. “The RED Tsunami is here!”