After former President Donald Trump made gains in 2020 in several Rio Grande Valley counties, Republicans have continued to target Latino voters in the region. One measure of how well they’re doing: new fundraising numbers.
Mark Reagan, who covers the border for the McAllen Monitor, joined Texas Standard to share more about what he’s been seeing in South Texas. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: Anyone who has been tracking politics in South Texas knows there seems to be something of a shift going on. Tell us a little bit about the presumptions, what, 10 years ago?
Mark Reagan: Yeah. So 10 years ago, Republicans were really nothing in Cameron and Hidalgo counties. Republican voters didn’t have big names. There was hardly any money poured into the districts because your familiar faces – Vicente Gonzalez, Filemon Vela, Henry Cuellar – you know, they were shoo-ins; they won every time. But, you know, that was then, and this is now.
You write for the Monitor that South Texas Republicans are raising more money than ever, by millions. Tell us a little bit about what the latest fundraising data says.
It’s really remarkable. I mean, you can go back and add up 10 years of fundraising by candidates and it’s dwarfed what they’re raising now. Monica De La Cruz, who is in her second bid to try to win District 15, which has been redistricted in favor of Republicans, is sitting at more than $2 million. I mean, in her last race, she raised around $400,000 over in Cameron County. Mayra Flores, who’s coming off the heels of a special election, raised more than $600,000 in 35 days.
That’s pretty remarkable. What do you think is is going on? What accounts for this?
Well, to an extent, you know, a lot of the people I talk with feel that the National Democratic Party really isn’t in touch with Valley Democratic voters, some who are going to lean Republican over issues like border security. The other thing I think that is going into it is if you do look at the numbers, this money is not all coming from Texans. There are people from around the country donating to Mayra Flores and Monica De La Cruz, and I think that has a lot to do with the rocketing of their name recognition, right. You know, they’re on Fox News; they’re on Twitter. They’re reaching a very wide audience.
Money is one thing, votes quite another. It’s quite possible to raise millions here in some of these key races but that, you know, not make a difference. What is your sense, having covered politics in the region, of whether or not this this area is indeed at that tipping point that Republicans are hoping for and Democrats are hoping against?
Sure. In District 15, which is largely Hidalgo County – and now it’s been redistricted and it stretches stretches north – I do think it’s very possible that this district flips red.
As for District 34, which now is mainly Cameron, currently, it’s also been redistricted, the district that gave Mayra Flores her special election. I think the voters who put her in office for this small amount of time, they’re not allowed to vote in the new District 34 – and like I said, it’s been redistricted. I think while there’s a lot of money and a lot of talk around Mayra, at the end of the day, Cameron County and a small sliver of Hidalgo County, these are solidly blue. This is a solidly blue district.
I mean, you never say never in news, right? But to me, it looks like, yeah, that’s a lot of money in 34, but I think the Democrats are still going to come out on top there. But 15? I think it could turn Republican.