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The Republican Who Flipped South Texas

A campaign sign for U.S. Representative for District 34 Mayra Flores in Brownsville, Texas, March 1.


Denise Cathey/Associated Press

After winning Tuesday’s special election in Texas,

Mayra Flores

will soon become America’s first Mexican-born Congresswoman—and by the way, she’s a Republican who’s married to a Border Patrol agent. What a great American story, plus another piece of evidence that Democrats won’t win the future on demographics alone.

The 34th district is in South Texas, the Rio Grande Valley, where the GOP has made many inroads. Some news reports say this swath of the Lone Star State hasn’t been represented in the House by a Republican since 1870. Democratic Rep.

Filemon Vela

held the seat for years, winning in 2020 by 14 points, before resigning to join a lobbying firm.

Ms. Flores will serve out the rest of his term, and it doesn’t sound like she won by triangulating to the center. “Washington liberals are killing the American dream, attacking oil-and-gas jobs and causing prices to skyrocket,” she says in her ads. “We must secure our borders and keep our families safe.” She describes herself as pro-life and promises to defend religious liberty. As of the latest results, she won outright with 51% of the vote in a four-way race.

Today’s Democratic Party is increasingly out of step with many Hispanic voters. Progressives want no restrictions on abortion. They see oil-and-gas jobs as a threat to the climate. And they characterize religious-liberty arguments as bigotry in disguise. The more that President Biden defers to the left-most elements of his party, the better the opportunity for Republicans to make substantive gains.

Perhaps Ms. Flores’s victory will cause a few more Democratic South Texans to reconsider the GOP. A note of caution is that special elections aren’t always harbingers. The current tally says about 30,000 voters turned out Tuesday, compared with more than 200,000 in 2020. Ms. Flores will have her work cut out for her to keep her seat in November. That election will take place under a revised map that makes the district more Democratic.

Ms. Flores will face incumbent Rep.

Vicente Gonzalez,

who currently holds the neighboring 15th district. She will need to work hard these next five months to prove herself. But whatever happens, her win Tuesday already proves that GOP can compete for her constituents.

Journal Editorial Report: San Francisco recalls progressive prosecutor Chesa Boudin. Images: Getty Images/Bloomberg Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the June 16, 2022, print edition.

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