Democrat Dan Sanchez has conceded the special election for Texas’ 34th Congressional District to Republican Mayra Flores.
A Flores win would give Republicans an additional seat in the House and allow her to finish the term of former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela.
“I want to thank my family, especially my wife Alex and children Daniel and Alessia, friends and community who poured their hearts into this effort. Based on the results, we came up short tonight,” Sanchez said in a statement.
Flores would be the first Mexican-born member of Congress. She benefited from significant investment by national Republicans and relative indifference from Democrats, who were outspent by an estimated 20-to-1 margin.
Republicans zeroed in on the race as part of an effort to project growing strength with moderate and conservative Hispanic voters in South Texas. But Flores’ stay on Capitol Hill might be a short one — she will be up for election for a full term in November against incumbent Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who is shifting from his 15th Congressional District to the newly drawn 34th, which is considerably friendlier to Democrats.
“A Democrat will represent TX-34 in January. If Republicans spend money on a seat that is out of their reach in November, great,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Monica Robinson told CNN before the special election. The DCCC dipped into the race late, spending $100,000 on digital ads earlier this month.
The lack of support for Sanchez frustrated Gonzalez, who told Politico weeks ago that it would “be a tragedy” if the seat turned red for any amount of time. In a statement earlier Tuesday, he welcomed the late interest in the contest, but demanded more.
“I’m pleased to see Democrats mobilizing around this race,” he told CNN, “but South Texas needs sustained investment from the party.”
Sanchez, in a statement conceding the race hours later, was less diplomatic. He expressed confidence that Gonzalez would win in November and denounced “out of state interests” for financially backing Flores, but also called out his own party.
“Too many factors were against us,” former Cameron County commissioner said, “including too little to no support from the National Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”
Republicans and allied outside groups made more significant commitments to Flores, using the campaign to give her a headstart in the fall and, beyond the district’s shifting borders, help bolster their broader attacks on national Democrats.
“This election will show that voters in Texas’ 34th District are tired of Democrats’ incompetence at the border and record-high inflation,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair said before Election Day. “Texans and voters across the country know Democrat policies are making their lives worse, and will vote Republican.”
Whether Flores’ victory portends much for the coming general election is difficult to predict. Democrats and other observers, including Sanchez’s team, were confident the race would, at worst, go to a runoff. What’s clear, though, is that Vela’s decision to resign in order to take a job as a lobbyist has created another headache for House Democrats’ already slim majority.