Former Hidalgo County Texas GOP Chair Javier Villalobos was elected as the new mayor of McAllen Texas on Saturday. Like most places, the mayoral race in McAllen is traditionally non-partisan, but Villalobos’ election may have big implications for both Democrats and Republicans.
The election of Villalobos comes as the U.S. southern border continues to be flooded with illegal immigrants. The crisis began almost immediately after President Joe Biden took office and shows no signs of letting up.
In late March, Biden appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the the Biden administration’s response to the influx of migrants, however Harris has yet to visit the border region to assess conditions there.
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The election of Javier Villalobos may be a big jolt to Democrats, who have depended on the Hispanic vote as a reliable voting bloc. But things may be changing in counties along the border.
According to the Texas Tribune, in counties that Hillary Clinton won by at least 30-point margins in 2016, Joe Biden won by only 17 percentage points. In some of the counties that Trump lost to both Clinton and Biden in, the point swings are dramatic to say the least.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won Starr County by 60.2 points. In 2020, Donald Trump narrowly lost in that county by just five points, a 55.2 point swing. In Maverick County, Clinton won in 2016 by 55.8 points, in 2020, Joe Biden won by just over 10 points. Maverick County Texas is 95.1% Hispanic.
Donald Trump increased the numbers for the GOP in border counties in 2020 with a victory in Zapata County, which is 94% hispanic, where the number of Republican votes doubled. A Republican has not won a presidential election in that county since 1920.
Trump also flipped Kenedy County, where he lost by eight points in 2016 but won by 32 points in 2020.
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Republican Hispanic leaders in Texas agree that they are definitely seeing a shift in voting patterns and candidates. They say it is very apparent among hispanic women, including new Hidalgo County GOP Chairwoman Adrienne Pena-Garza.
In 2020, Monica De La Cruz-Heranadez ran against incumbent Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) for Texas’ 15th congressional district and lost by just under three points. She intends to run again in 2022 and flip the district. Her reasons for running again may reflect the reason many hispanic Texans are switching to the GOP:
“The Hispanic culture really aligns with pro-life, pro God, and pro country. Those are the values of the Republican party. Democrats have just simply gone too far to the left and towards socialism.”
Myra Flores, the Hidalgo County GOP Hispanic Outreach Chair is running against incumbent Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX) in 2022 in Texas’ 34th congressional district.
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As these trends begin to be more visible, especially in heavily hispanic border counties, Democrats are realizing that what they assumed to be dependable votes my be drying up.
Sawyer Hackett, executive director of the People First Future, a PAC started by former Obama HHS Secretary Julian Castro tweeted out after Villalobos’ win, “If the Democrat Party doesn’t get serious about Latino outreach we’re in big trouble.”
Some Democrats may be seeing the writing on the wall about their far left positions on issues. Former Texas Democrat candidate for Congress Jon Mark Hogg said in a tweet, “Someone tell me again how we should stick with our current progressive message and strategy in Texas and not try to appeal to conservative/moderate voters.”
The Democrat Party has been convinced that hispanics are one-issue voters, with that issue being immigration. They assume that all hispanics are for immigration of any kind, and they are finding out that hispanics, like African-Americans, are not monolithic.
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel took a victory lap for newly elected hispanic Republicans, and pointed out exactly why it is that they won.
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