Mayra Flores raises twice as much as U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez in bid to unseat him this November

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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WASHINGTON — Former Republican U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores raised well over twice as much as her Democratic opponent Rep. Vicente Gonzalez in the first quarter of the year in an encouraging sign to Republicans eager to take a region historically dominated by Democrats.

Flores, who is running to represent the 34th Congressional District, raised over $1.1 million from the start of the year till the end of March, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Gonzalez, meanwhile, raised over $449,000.

Still, Gonzalez dominates in cash on hand, closing the quarter with over $1.4 million in the bank. Flores had over $786,000.

Republicans have identified the 34th district, which includes the Rio Grande Valley east of McAllen, as a target this year. The National Republican Congressional Committee recruited Flores to run in the district again last year.

"Mayra Flores has been crushing Vicente Gonzalez since the day she entered the race, demonstrating the enthusiasm for her campaign," said NRCC spokesperson Delanie Bomar in a statement digging into Gonzalez's votes on Democratic legislation.

Gonzalez won the seat after defeating Flores in the 2022 general election. Flores had been elected only a few months prior in a special election to replace Rep. Filemon Vela, who had resigned from Congress to go into lobbying. Gonzalez previously represented the neighboring McAllen-based 15th Congressional District, which had been redrawn to be more competitive that cycle. Republican Rep. Monica De La Cruz won the 15th district that year.

Republicans are eager to take more territory in South Texas, asserting that their message for border security and against President Joe Biden’s economic agenda would resonate with voters in the region. Republicans feted Flores’ victory in the 2022 special election and De La Cruz’s win in the general that year as signs that Democratic control in the area should not be taken for granted.

Democrats retort that the 34th district is still blue country, and that Flores only won because national Democrats didn’t invest in the special election that would be redone only a few months later. Gonzalez ended up beating Flores in the general by over 8 percentage points with the help of national Democratic arms that poured money to match Republican efforts.

Gonzalez kept some savings in the bank after winning in 2022, ending that cycle with over $303,000 left over.

In a statement Thursday, Gonzalez dismissed the first quarter sum as national Republicans again pour money into the district.

“We’re keeping up with our fundraising goals. It really doesn’t matter how much money out-of-state Republicans raise for her,” Gonzalez said. “This November, District 34 will once again reject Mayra and her extreme views that just don’t reflect South Texas values.”

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