Last week Mayra Flores scored an upset win in Texas’ 34th Congressional District’s Special Election on June 14. She became the first Republican to win the seat since shortly after the Civil War, when many GOP voters were slaves freed from Democratic “owners.” It was a close win, with her 51 percent just enough to avoid a runoff. And her November reelection bid will be more difficult because redistricting makes the 34th more Democratic.
But her strategy and victory have produced many lessons for California Republicans and Democrats.
Before we get to her, what’s also interesting is the second-place finisher, Dan Sanchez, at 43 percent. When asked his views on abortion, he replied, “My views haven’t changed since I was a little boy. I’m a Catholic. I was raised as a Catholic, and as a Catholic, you know I’m pro-life.
“Although we respect women’s rights, we have to also respect the children’s rights. We have children being born and then not being cared for. We need to make sure that if these children are born there’s proper child care, there’s healthcare, there’s what they need in order to help these new moms.”
That’s in contrast to President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other prominent Democrats who favor completely legalized abortion.
A May 3 statement by the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic groups said: “The Republican attacks on abortion access, birth control and women’s health care have dramatically escalated the stakes of the 2022 election. At this moment of crisis, Democrats are standing shoulder to shoulder with millions of Americans in this fight. And in November, we must elect Democrats who will serve as the last lines of defense against the GOP’s assault on our established and fundamental freedoms.”
Flores’ Strategy: Family and Freedom
Returning to Flores, in a district 85 percent Latino, her strategy has been to appeal to their patriotism and traditional values. A big part of it was Flores outspent Sanchez 10 to 1. Unlike in some races, Republicans realized they had to rally behind their candidate. Democrats assumed this would be an easy win and didn’t take Flores’ threat seriously enough. It also seems likely the Democrats just didn’t like Flores’ pro-life position, so he didn’t get much support.
The Texas Tribune also reported on her campaign themes: “Family was a big part of Flores’ messaging, an appeal to a time-worn South Texas value. She regularly talked about being the wife of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and showcased other members of her family, including in a TV commercial exclusively about her dad.
“But Flores and her allies also talked about the issues, namely border security and the economy. She sought to speak to the financial stress many Americans are feeling under inflation, flashing images of high gas prices in TV ads. And she put it all in the context of her modest upbringing as a Mexican immigrant whose parents brought her to the country at a young age, seeking a better life.”
It quoted Abraham Enriquez, founder and president of Bienvenido US, a conservative Hispanic group that backed Flores. He said, “Hispanics by and large are a middle-class, hard-working people. They’re thinking, ‘Which political party is really driving the economic conversation?’”
That message should resonate even more among Latinos in California, where gas is $2 higher than in Texas, and housing simply unaffordable by most in the state.
It also didn’t help that it was Sanchez who hurled what could be considered a sexist and racist jibe at Flores, saying at an election rally Republicans’ profile for a candidate was, “Female, good-looking, Latina—that’s who they’re after.”
To find out what’s going on nationally and locally, I’m on a lot of Republican “msg” lists that pop up on my phone. Right after Flores won, they started hitting with requests for money. Here’s one for Flores. Notice the themes, which have been tested with focus groups and honed with A/B testing.
I’ll quote the whole thing for you, with my notations, while cutting out the donation link. It’s worth reading in full because it shows the GOP’s whole strategy the next four months and two weeks. It begins with a picture of Flores, then the text.
“I’ll give it to you straight, John. My name is Mayra Flores. I’m the Republican Congresswoman from TX-34 who just flipped this critical seat red, giving Pelosi and Biden their first major defeat.”
She’s using the highly unpopular Pelosi and Biden as the real enemy.
“But, our battle has only begun, John. The radical left flooded my race with millions. They’re going to double down on their attacks to defeat me and Republicans across the board in November. That’s why I’m urgently reaching out for your support.
“The left hates me because I’m everything they want you to believe doesn’t exist. I came to the USA when I was six. My family legally immigrated from Mexico for a chance to live the American Dream.”
Everybody loves an American Dream story. Note she emphasized “legally.”
“I didn’t have much growing up, just hard work and family. Now, I’m a proud American who always puts God and family first. The Republican Party represents the things that my fellow Hispanic Americans and I hold closely: faith, family, and freedom.”
Just like all Red-Blooded Red Party Republicans.
“Now through November, the liberal mob will flood my race with millions to silence me and our conservative movement. They know that the red wave runs through TX-34. They’re furious that the first Mexican American Congresswoman is a pro-Trump, Republican like me. It’s dire that we win.”
Trump still is immensely popular among Republicans, especially donors. And next she’s emphasizing his America First theme.
“I need to know that I can count on top, America First patriots like you, John. Will you rush just $10 before 11:59 PM to help me keep up with the left’s fundraising machine to crush my post-election goal?” [donation link deleted]
They start with a low number, just $10, but when they get your phone number or email, you get endless more appeals.
Democrats do it, too. But this is really effective for Republicans.
She also got an endorsement from Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, who left California for the healthier tax and government climate of Texas. He tweeted the day after the election, “I voted for Mayra Flores—first time I ever voted Republican. Massive red wave in 2022.”
In 2018, Silicon Valley billionaires heavily supported Democratic congressional candidates, especially in California, tipping the House into the Democratic camp. They can’t be too happy the economy now is tanking. The NASDAQ has fallen 32 percent this year. From 15,833 on Jan. 3 to 10,798 on June 20.
Democrats should be cooling it on abortion and the other culture wars issues, and prioritizing more moderates like Sanchez. So far, they’re not.
If Musk and other billionaires shovel money and support to the GOP this November, watch out.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.