Republican Mayra Flores announces bid to retake South Texas congressional seat

Former U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Los Indios, at a GOP event in McAllen on Nov. 6, 2022. (Michael Gonzalez For The Texas Tribune, Michael Gonzalez For The Texas Tribune)

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Former U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Los Indios, announced Tuesday that she is running for her old seat, challenging Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, in the only Texas congressional district that national Republicans are targeting in the 2024 election cycle.

Flores revealed her decision during a morning interview on Fox News.

“We made history in South Texas last year, but there is more work to be done,” Flores said in a statement. “Joe Biden’s policies are running our country into the ground, and people in our communities are suffering.”

Flores’ decision is a win for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of the House GOP. The committee had been recruiting her to run, an effort that it publicly disclosed last week.

Democrats say Flores is too extreme for the district and will face an uphill battle after Gonzalez beat her by a comfortable margin last year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee responded to her announcement by saying she is "barreling towards a repeat defeat."

“Mayra Flores is more focused on espousing fringe conspiracy theories than actually helping middle class families, which is why South Texas voters decisively rejected her extreme agenda last year,” DCCC spokesperson Viet Shelton said in a statement.

Flores first won the 34th Congressional District in a June 2022 special election, giving the GOP a shot of momentum as the party was looking to gain new ground in predominantly Hispanic South Texas. But redistricting made the seat more favorable for Democrats in the November election, and Flores lost reelection against Gonzalez five months later.

Gonzalez beat Flores by 9 percentage points in a redrawn district that President Joe Biden hypothetically would have carried by 16 points if the current district lines had been in place in 2020.

The NRCC named the 34th District a target in March. So far, it is the only congressional district the organization has identified as a pickup opportunity this cycle in Texas.

The 2024 Republican primary for the 34th District already includes Mauro Garza, a self-funding businessman who began his campaign in February. He was the runner-up last year in the Republican primary for the neighboring 15th District, which is represented by U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz, R-Edinburg.

In a statement released in recent days, Garza said his campaign is “making serious strides” and that he has “only just started to fight.”

In her announcement, Flores kept up her criticism of Biden's handling of border security, a staple of her past campaigns. In the Fox interview, she pressured House Republicans to make good on their campaign promises and impeach to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Flores and Gonzalez fought one another bitterly in their 2022 race, which was filled with accusations of racism and sexism.

A spokesperson for Gonzalez confirmed he will seek reelection next year. And in a statement, the incumbent echoed the DCCC's confidence that Flores would lose again.

“Democracy is a beautiful thing,” Gonzalez said. “There’s nothing I’d like more than to prove once again that South Texas is not for sale.”

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