Mayra Flores wins special election to turn Texas House seat Republican

A south Texas congressional district will be represented by a Republican for the first time following a special election on Tuesday.

The election of Mayra Flores, who bested her Democrat competitor in a 51%-43% vote, comes as Republicans continue to make inroads among Latino voters in south Texas.

Flores, reportedly the first Latina Republican to serve Texas in Congress, is expected to face a more challenging race in November, however. 

Her victory was to replace Democrat Filemon Vela, who retired before his term ended – meaning she was elected to serve out the remainder.

During November’s general election, voters will determine who will serve as the district’s permanent congressional representative starting in 2022. Flores, who is running for this seat in the general election, will face off against Democratic nominee Vicente Gonzalez.

Gonzalez now serves as the representative for a neighboring congressional district. He is reportedly expected to beat Flores in the election.

Flores’s victory comes as Republicans ramp up efforts to court Latino voters and amid a slew of polls and elections showing a broader shift among Latino voters away from the Democrats.

“If you look at things like the Texas local elections, the New Jersey elections, Nassau County elections, the Virginia elections, they all point to Hispanics not just not snapping back but continuing to get more Republican in relative terms than they were before,” David Shor, a political data analyst of the left, told Yahoo News.

Indeed, Flores touted her conservative bona fides on the campaign trail. She invoked elements of Trump’s rhetoric, and leaned heavily on law-and-order motifs in describing her background.

Flores, a respiratory care worker, was born in Mexico. On her website, Flores boasts that her parents and grandparents “raised her with strong conservative values and to always put God and family first”.

She has made clear that her immigration to the US at age six was done “legally” and “with the help of her father … gave her family the biggest gift, the gift of becoming a proud, naturalized American citizen”.