Mayra Flores accuses Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of funding racist ads
Controversy draws attention to a contentious and Latino-heavy race for Texas’ 34th congressional district, a predominantly Hispanic seat along the border with Mexico where the GOP recently made electoral gains in the historically blue region .
It comes as Republicans step up outreach efforts to woo the Hispanic vote, with growing numbers of Latino voters shifting right across the country, some experts say.
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“It’s about seeing Texas become a more competitive electoral environment,” said Joshua Blank, research director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas. With a national spotlight on Texas ahead of the midterm elections, both political parties will try to use “explosive moments” like this to their advantage, he added.
In a statement shared Tuesday on Twitter, Flores said she was “disgusted” that Gonzalez hired “a ‘creepy blogger’ to run hateful and racist ads against me,” and to attack her “Mexican heritage and sexually degrade her.” “.
Gonzalez said in a statement to The Washington Post that his team “advertise on many platforms and have no control” over their editorial content.
“We do not pay for political attacks, and we will no longer advertise on this platform,” he said, adding that he condemned “offensive language” on the platform, just as he condemned “ racist dialogues from Trump calling Mexican rapists and murderers.”
“If only Rep. Flores had the guts to do the same,” he said.
NBC News first reported that Gonzalez’s campaign gave the McHale report $1,200 in June for “ad services,” according to the Federal Election Commission, as well as $1,000 in October of last year.
McHale could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday, but he defended his inflammatory rhetoric in a message on Monday, when he suggested his remarks were “political satire” and asked “when did frijoles become the ‘N’-word equivalent?”
“I am a liberal democrat. And it’s war on the Republican…I’m going to have no mercy with her,” he told NBC News.
Flores became the first Latino Republican sent to Congress from Texas after winning a special election last month, turning the congressional seat from blue to red. She was elected to serve the remaining six months of retired Democratic Congressman Filemon Vela, and is now running in November against Gonzalez, a popular incumbent, for a full term. Gonzalez, who has represented Texas’ 15th congressional district since 2017, decided to move to the 34th district this year due to a redistricting.
Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, Flores moved to Texas as a child. With a “God, Family, Country” campaign slogan, she ran on a platform aimed at socially conservative Hispanics in the border town of Brownsville, including a tough stance on immigration, “secure the border” and reduce Taxes.
A staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, Flores has repeatedly criticized the Democratic Party for taking Hispanic voters for granted, and went so far as to call Democrats “the greatest threat facing America.”
She also called for the impeachment of President Biden and posted several tweets using the hashtag #QAnon, but denied ever supporting the conspiracy theory that government and media are run by Satan-worshipping elites who rule a pedophile network. .
Flores responded to McHale’s attacks by drawing a comparison to first lady Jill Biden’s comments last week in which she said San Antonio’s Latino community was “unique as breakfast tacos.” The remarks prompted a fierce response from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and others, who responded, “We’re not tacos.”
Flores’ victory, along with the candidacies of other right-wing Hispanic women running for Congress in the state’s four districts that border Mexico, signal both a concerted effort by the Republican Party to make gains among Hispanic voters in this area and a growing trend of Latino voters moving to the right in these southern districts, experts say.
“Republicans have made an effort to change the narrative that they don’t welcome the Hispanic vote in these districts,” Blank said.
But while the GOP has made real gains and increased its presence in the region, in part through its efforts to recruit candidates like Flores, Blank argued that those voters represent a small percentage of the state’s overall Hispanic vote. , which remains largely Democratic.
The controversy reflects “wild and controversial” Texas politics, said Cal Jilson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. In the 34th arrondissement, campaigns “often try to reduce their opponent to a laugh line”, he said.
“It’s all part of the serve and volley game of politics,” Jilson said. “The question is who serves next?”