The next Mayra Flores? GOP fields over 100 Hispanic House candidates this cycle

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The House Republicans’ congressional campaign arm is seeking to highlight what it says is a record number of GOP candidates this cycle. House Republicans are looking to them to make inroads with Hispanic voters and aid the party’s efforts to win a majority in the fall.

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The National Republican Congressional Committee said a record 102 Hispanic candidates to date ran Republican campaigns for the House this cycle.

“Hispanic voters are abandoning the Democrat Party because they’ve delivered nothing but broken promises, record high inflation, and soaring crime,” NRCC Communications Director Michael McAdams told the Washington Examiner. “Hispanic values of faith, family, and hard work are Republican values, and we are thrilled to have a record number of Hispanics running as House Republicans this cycle.”

Republicans say the record number of Republican Hispanic candidates is just one cause for their optimism with voters. Last month, Rep. Mayra Flores (R-TX) was sworn in after she won an all-party primary to replace former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela, who resigned earlier this year for a job at a Washington, D.C., law and lobbying firm.

Flores flipped the historically blue 34th Congressional District, spanning from the U.S.-Mexico border at Brownsville, Texas, north for hundreds of miles, and she will hold the seat for the remainder of this congressional term, though Flores is seeking reelection in November in a district that analysts still project leans blue.

A fellow House member, Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, will run against Flores after deciding to seek reelection in the newly redrawn 34th district.

But Republicans argue the victory can be replicated in November. In a June statement celebrating Flores’s victory, Congressional Leadership Fund President Dan Conston said, “Electing the first Republican Latina from Texas is a historic moment, and it’s only appropriate that it happened in the Rio Grande Valley, where voters are fast jettisoning Democrats and their out of touch agenda.”

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Although the district is historically blue, President Joe Biden underperformed there in 2020, and Republicans spent heavily to campaign in the district to capitalize on what they saw as momentum with voters there.

Republicans hope to capitalize on Biden’s sinking approval ratings, as a president’s party historically loses seats in a midterm election cycle. A Quinnipiac University poll this week found Biden’s lowest approval rating since he took office. The same poll also found that his approval rating is lower among Hispanics than the general public.

Another poll this month from the New York Times/Siena College found Biden’s support from Latinos and Hispanics has dropped from the 60% who voted for him in 2020. Fifty-four percent of Hispanic respondents who disapproved of Biden said they would choose to back a different candidate, the highest percentage of any demographic surveyed.

But others argued the emerging data show warning signs for Democrats rather than a vast ideological realignment among Hispanic voters.

Matt Grossmann, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and professor of political science at Michigan State University, wrote on Twitter this week that “Hispanic voters moved toward Republicans in 2020, with those trends continuing in 2022 polling.”

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“But there is less evidence that it is about class identity or education level than ideological sorting & reduced emphasis on economic issues relative to cultural issues,” Grossmann added.