Bloomberg — A trio of conservative Latina House candidates from South Texas failed to help Republicans capitalize on cracks in Hispanic support for Democrats.
The three women dubbed themselves the “Triple Threat” and cast their coalition as a counter to “The Squad” -- a group of progressive House Democrats that includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
But just one of the three claimed victory Tuesday: Monica De La Cruz, a Donald Trump-endorsed businesswoman.
The unsuccessful effort grew out of a June special election win by Mayra Flores, who flipped a long-held Democratic district to become the first Mexican-born woman elected to Congress and the face of Republican efforts to attract conservative Hispanic voters.
But Flores lost re-election to Democratic Representative Vicente Gonzalez, an incumbent who was pitted against her because of redistricting.
The group’s third member, Cassy Garcia, a former staffer for Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, also fell short in her challenge to Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar.
“There was no red wave in South Texas. There wasn’t even a red ripple,” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. “After pouring in tens of millions of D.C. dollars -- they could barely squeak out a win in one of them.”
De La Cruz, who beat Democrat Michelle Vallejo with 53% of the vote according to the Associated Press, said she checked in on Flores and Garcia by phone, calling them friends.
“I believe that they will remain leaders in not only South Texas, but in the country in getting out the Hispanic vote,” she told Bloomberg News in an interview Wednesday.
Republicans invested more resources in South Texas after Trump’s better-than-expected performance there in 2020. Flores, Garcia, and De La Cruz were part of a record number of non-White Republican candidates on House ballots this year -- efforts intended to secure gains with Hispanics and other voters of color.
Democrats argued Flores’s June win was a fluke given low voter turnout in the special election and her fundraising advantage.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Cuellar said he performed better than President Joe Biden did two years ago in his district, which the Democrat, who opposes abortion rights, attributed to crossover support from moderate Republican voters.
Gains Outside Texas
Eight Hispanic GOP House candidates had claimed midterm victories as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Republican National Committee.
They include Tony Gonzales, who won re-election in his West Texas district; George Santos, the son of Brazilian immigrants, who flipped a New York seat; and Trump-endorsed Anna Paulina Luna in Florida.
Republicans made broad gains with Latino voters in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio, both incumbents, won the Latino vote in their state according to exit polls conducted by CBS News: 56% of Latinos voted for DeSantis and 54% for Rubio.
Those numbers represent a big swing in Hispanic support toward Florida Republicans over the last four to six years. DeSantis and Rubio both lost the Latino vote in their previous elections.
De La Cruz said she was looking forward to working with newly elected GOP Latinos.
“I believe that Latino Republicans who did win, and who are current members of Congress will continue to make great strides in the Hispanic community,” she said.
--With assistance from Gregory Korte
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