Republicans once again shut out Democrats in statewide offices in Tuesday’s midterm elections. But the GOP won just one of three U.S. House races in South Texas – where they have hoped to make inroads.
Mark McCaig, chairman of the grassroots organization the Texas Republican Initiative, joined Texas Standard to offer his input on the results. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: What is your overall reaction to the results?
Mark McCaig: I’m actually quite pleased by the election results. We had very significant gains for Republicans in the state of Texas, especially in areas where the Republican Party has historically not done particularly well, areas that historically were considered Democrat strongholds – you continued to see the Republican Party making inroads. So I think there’s a lot of cause for optimism among Republicans in Texas this morning.
There had been all these predictions of South Texas turning red. I think there was one congressional pickup in South Texas last night?
That’s correct. Monica De La Cruz defeated her Democrat opponent in Congressional District 15, which is based in Hidalgo County and sort of moves up north toward some of the San Antonio suburbs.
She is the first Republican to win in the 15th Congressional District, if I’m not mistaken.
That’s my understanding as well.
Why do you think the predictions of a sweep for the GOP in South Texas didn’t materialize? I’m thinking of U.S. Representative Mayra Flores’ race in District 34 in particular – where Democrat Vicente González won.
Well, when you’re talking about Mayra Flores’ race, remember that, during the redistricting process, Mayra actually went up to testify in front of the redistricting committee in the state Legislature and expressed her concerns because the new Congressional District 34 had such a Democrat lean. The Congressional District 34 that she ran in last night is not the same Congressional District 34 that she won a special election in.
And when you look at the numbers, Mayra actually significantly overperformed typical Republican performance in that district. The Congressional District 34 that she ran in was a Biden plus 16 district. And she only lost her race by eight points. So I think that still shows that there’s significant growth in South Texas. I think that we have not heard the last of Mayra Flores.
» TEXAS ELECTION 2022: See election results for statewide and congressional races
At the top of the ticket, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott defeated challenger Beto O’Rourke. Abbott has been considered a possible contender for the White House. How do you feel about the depth of the GOP bench if Abbott chooses to leave to make a run?
We certainly have a very, very strong bench of Republicans, not only in statewide office but in our congressional delegation as well. Obviously, it’s the governor’s prerogative to do whatever he wishes to do. He has an extraordinarily strong track record as governor of the state of Texas, as evidenced by the strong reelection numbers he’s gotten in his reelection campaigns.
So I don’t know what his plans are beyond this term he was just elected to. But regardless of those plans, the Republican Party and Republican statewide dominance in the state is something that I see continue to be strong.
To my ears, Abbott’s victory speech sounded a bit like he was speaking beyond Texas. What was your takeaway?
My takeaway was he was talking about the issues that he ran on during this campaign. You know, talking about pushing for school choice and other issues of just, you know, solid conservative governance that resulted in his popularity across the state.
What’s your message to Republican voters in Texas today?
Keep up the great work. You know, every vote counts. If you can recruit more folks to get involved in the process, definitely do so. I mean, we’re in a strong position. But it definitely takes a lot of work to maintain and grow the victories that we saw last night.