Republicans outraise Democrats in battle for South Texas congressional seats

U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Los Indios, meets with a supporter after Pro-Life America's Hopeful Future conference in McAllen on July 9, 2022. She is one of three Republicans hoping for a sweep of South Texas congressional seats. (Michael Gonzalez For The Texas Tribune, Michael Gonzalez For The Texas Tribune)

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Republicans outraised Democrats over the summer in all three congressional races in South Texas that the national parties are contesting, according to new campaign finance reports.

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The three GOP nominees hauled in a combined $4.3 million over the past three months, while their Democratic opponents collected $2.4 million together. Two of the Democrats — incumbents Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez — still ended the period with more cash on hand than their challengers, though Gonzalez had only a slight edge.

But the large GOP fundraising shows how intent Republicans are on taking over the predominantly Hispanic region after President Joe Biden underperformed there in 2020. They are targeting Cuellar’s 28th District, which includes Laredo in a long stretch of the border up through San Antonio; the 15th District, which is an open seat and runs in a thin line from McAllen up to east of San Antonio; and the 34th District in the Rio Grande Valley, where Gonzalez is running for reelection against U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Los Indios, who captured the seat in a June special election.

Winning the seats could help the GOP retake the U.S. House, but it would also provide a major psychological win for a party intensely focused on border policy and gaining ground with Hispanic voters.

All three Republican nominees raised over $1 million, and Cuellar’s challenger, Cassy Garcia, had the largest haul — $1.7 million. The biggest disparity, however, was in the 34th District, where Flores more than tripled Gonzalez’s fundraising, $1.6 million to $497,000.

Cuellar has the biggest cash-on-hand lead, with $836,000 in reserves as of Sept. 30 compared with $384,000 for Garcia. While she posted the biggest fundraising number, she spent through most of it during the period.

Gonzalez reported a smaller cash-on-hand advantage over Flores, $820,000 to $799,000.

In the 15th District, Republican Monica De La Cruz raised just over $1 million, while Democrat Michelle Vallejo was not far behind with $867,000. They were the closest in fundraising across the three elections, though De La Cruz finished the period with more than double Vallejo’s cash on hand.

The 15th District race has been in headlines lately due to in-state frustrations with national Democrats’ lack of serious investment in the district.

The reports were due Saturday. All of them covered July 1 through Sept. 30, except for Flores’, which began on July 5 due to a previous filing she had to make related to the special election.

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