Texas 15th Congressional District: 16 candidates have their sights set on the open house seat in South Texas

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McALLEN, TX (Border report) – Several Democratic and Republican candidates are vying for their party’s nomination for an open seat in Congress that was significantly affected by redistricting by the Texas Legislature last year.

Monica De La Cruz is heavily favored in a field of nine Republicans in Tuesday’s primary for Texas’ 15th congressional district. Republican candidates include De La Cruz, Jose Aizar Cavazos, Sara Canady, Vangela Churchill, Mauro Garza, Angela Juarez, Ryan Krause, John Lerma, Steve Schmuker Jr.

De La Cruz narrowly lost to Democrat Vicente Gonzalez in the 2020 general election, but has since decided to run in a neighboring district this election due to a redistricting that changed the political boundaries from his home to district. 34.

Six Democrats are also running for the Democratic Party nomination in District 15, trying to grab the Democratic seat left open by Gonzalez. They are Eliza Alvarado, Julio Garza, Ruben Ramirez, Vanessa Tijerina, Michelle Vallejo and John Villarreal Rigney.

Libertarian Ross Lynn Leone is also a candidate.

The redistricting has been questioned by several organizations who say the new District 15 is adding Republican voters and diluting the Democratic Party on Texas’ southern border with Mexico – an area that has long been a Democratic stronghold.

The Texas Legislature in the 3rd Special Session in 2021 redrew the congressional districts for Districts 15 and 34. The new boundaries are seen above. (Graph of the Texas Legislature)

District 15 now encompasses several conservative counties north of Hidalgo, including Jim Wells and Live Oak and Karnes counties, and extends vertically from the Mexican border to northeast San Antonio.

Natasha Altema McNeely, associate professor of political science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburgh, said the region is seeing an increase in young conservative voters, as well as young progressive voters, and that could lead to primary elections. of Tuesday.

“Young people, young millennials if you will, they are very politically active, so you see what seems to be a growing contingent of young progressives here in the valley. However, there is also a growing contingent of growing conservatives,” McNeely said. “Young people here in the valley seem to be more politically motivated and could be the deciding factor for politics here.”

The Republican National Committee and several conservative organizations support De La Cruz. This includes former President Donald Trump, and the Tea Party Express, which announced on Monday that it is supporting the small businesswoman from Edinburgh. De La Cruz also has the endorsements of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas; GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy; the Republican Hispanic National Assembly; Texas Right to Life; and the National Border Patrol Council, according to her campaign website.

The Texas Tribune reports that District 15 “could be the state’s only competitive congressional seat in November thanks to redistricting.”

De La Cruz believes migrants should “immigrate legally” like her grandmother did, according to a TV campaign ad. She is also tough on border security and believes in the “Remain in Mexico” policy, completing the border wall and ending humanitarian parole for migrants allowed to wait in the United States during their asylum process.

However, Garza, who owns a nightclub in San Antonio, ran ads saying De La Cruz isn’t conservative enough and he’s running an ad that repeats a false conspiracy theory about the Jan. 6 attack. 2021 against the US Capitol. , according to PolitiFact.

“They call it an insurrection. But what really happened on January 6? Have FBI agents been used as political agitators? according to the TV ad, the Garza campaign is underway.

De La Cruz told Border Report in October that she believes the new district boundaries more accurately reflect the growing conservatism in South Texas.

“I’m excited about the 2022 election. We had a great race in 2020 and we’re having a great race now and the redistricting is exciting for us at Texas 15,” she said. “We are running a great race and we will win in 2022.”

“District 15 has conservative values ​​and my campaign is running a conservative campaign and I think that’s why we resonated in 2020 and we saw the district swing 18% and narrow the gap to just 2.8% and really basically scared the incumbent of District 34 because he knows we have the right message for our district and truly reflect his values. »

De La Cruz lost to Gonzalez in 2020 by just 6,500 votes.

“She got the attention and endorsements of very high-ranking Republicans because she was about to beat Rep. Gonzalez a few years ago and around that time and since then the Republican National Committee had made it clear that ‘they were going to focus on these races here in South Texas,’ McNeely said.

Danny Diaz, director of LUPE Votes, told Border Report Monday that Vallejo best aligns with the values ​​and needs of low-income workers in South Texas, a platform his organization calls We The Pueblo. And he said his organization is working to keep Democratic District 15 in what he calls “a crossroads moment.”

“We’ve seen politicians, especially on the right, trying to target South Texas and make South Texas red,” he said.

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