Peace in the Blue Valley
: @RepGonzalez and @lamantia4texas show Morgan LaMantia with Mercedes Tigers high school team and Vincente Gonzalez with students at Edcouch-Elsa High School before critical general victories in Senate District 27 and Congressional District 34 on November 8



Democrats LaMantia and Gonzalez Defuse
Red Wave Dreams with Victories in Valley

Capitol Inside
November 14, 2022


General Election MVP
Monica De La Cruz - CD 15

Best Overall Campaign
Morgan LaMantia - SD 27
Vicente Gonzalez - CD 34

Best Statewide Campaign
Glenn Hegar - Comptroller

Best Incumbent Campaign
Eddie Morales Jr. - HD 74

Best Primary Campaign
Carrie Isaac - HD 73
Ellen Troxclair - HD 19








The ruling Republicans in Austin sought to capitalize in redistricting in 2021 on a seismic partisan shift that Donald Trump inspired the year before in the Rio Grande Valley and other heavily Hispanic areas that the Democrats have long controlled in South Texas. GOP leaders and lawmakers drew two districts in the Texas Legislature and two in the U.S. House so they would be in position for the kill when the 2022 midterm election turned out to be a disaster for President Joe Biden and the Democrats across the USA.

Governor Greg Abbott was the biggest believer in the red wave that never materialized in South Texas and the Valley when the major parties broke even there in the general election there last week. From Operation Lone Star to migrant busing to constant tweets on border security, Abbott made the RGV the epicenter of his universe for a year before celebrating a double-digit victory over Democrat Beto O'Rourke at a restaurant in McAllen on election night. The governor vowed to turn South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley red - and he made an audacious lunar leap with a promise to carry the Hispanic vote across the state as well.

But Abbott overestimated his star power in the Rio Grande Valley where the Democrats had a seawall with U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez and Morgan LaMantia on the ballot in races for Congress and the Texas Senate in districts that were designed for Republicans to win. Gonzalez dealt the GOP's high hopes a major blow when he ousted U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores in a bare-knuckled brawl between incumbents in Congressional District 34 where she'd served less than five months after a special election win in June. As a third-term lawmaker who'd unseated a longtime incumbent in 2016, Gonzalez had the advantage in Congressional District 34 where President Joe Biden had won by 15 points in 2020. Gonzales beat Flores by 9.

LaMantia provided the last and most significant line of defense the GOP plan to create the appearance of a takeover in the RGV by picking up districts that the gerrymander maestros in Austin crafted for that lofty goal. Such a perception would have been highly-misleading in light of the double-digit wins that O'Rourke chalked up in all four counties in the lower RGV there in the fight with Abbott. LaMantia put that prospect to rest when she beat Hinojosa by 569 votes out of more than 175,000 cast in SD 27. In a district where LaMantia would win with 50.16 percent of the vote, she had no room for error despite the inherent advantage of a wealthy family that's been a major player in state and local politics with vast connections on both sides of the aisle. With Abbott and the Republicans pouring record sums of money into South Texas, LaMantia would need of $6 million that she raised for a maiden voyage as a candidate who had a 6 to 1 advantage in fundraising on paper.

With veteran State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. planning to call it quits after 32 years on the job as the majority party's top Democratic ally in the east wing, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and the Senate Republicans thought they could win in SD 27 by replacing Hispanics with white voters that it gained with the addition of San Patricio and Bee counties and a sliver of the Corpus Christi area in Nueces County. That would have been fatal for LaMantia if Abbott's claims on the conversion of Democratic counties in South Texas to the GOP hadn't been a case of wishful thinking in a part of the state where O'Rourke beat Abbott worse than President Joe Biden defeated Trump two years ago. The new SD 27 counties have three to five times more white residents than a swath of Hidalgo County that was removed on the new map.

While Gonzalez was critical to the Democrats in their successful defense of the Valley, LaMantia was arguably even more valuable to that effort as a consequence of a war chest that gave all of the Democratic candidates in overlapping jurisdictions a boost and a family that gave her a built-in infrastructure in a state where her party has none for all practical purposes. But LaMantia couldn't have won without support from across the aisle and a superior fundraising effort that included the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC as her most generous organizational donor. She also needed Lucio - the outgoing incumbent who voted for the Republicans' Senate redistricting plan and endorsed Patrick for re-election as the chamber president. Hinojosa received glowing endorsements from Abbott, Patrick and other big name Republicans. But Lucio pitched his support to LaMantia.

LaMantia is being lauded here for one of the two best overall campaigns in nation's second largest state in the Capitol Inside Best of the Texas Elections for 2022. Gonzales is sharing that honor with her today after giving Flores the boot from Congress in a CD 34 fight that he won by almost 10 points with nearly 53 percent of the vote last week. The Democratic duo of Gonzalez and LaMantia more than offset Republican Monica De La Cruz's win as the most valuable individual player in Congressional District 15 which was designed for his elimination before he switched to CD 34.

“They spent over $7 million against us, spewing lies and hate and disinformation,” Gonzalez said at a victory celebration on election night. “Even with these large investments, we showed the Republican party that South Texas is not their home.”

Counties 2018 2020 2022 22 vs 20
Hidalgo D +26 D +17 D +18 D +1
Nueces R+14 R +3 R +8 R +5
Cameron D +10 D +13 D +10 R +3
Webb D +32 D +23 D +24 D +1
Starr D +37 D +5 D +18 D +13
Maverick D +33 D +9 D +18 D +9
Jim Wells R +5 R +10 R +8 D +2
Val Verde R +7 R +10 R +18 R +8
Uvalde R +21 R +20 R +22 R +2
Kleberg R +14 R +2 R +8 R +6
Willacy D +7 D +12 D +13 D +1
Duval D +25 D +3 D +11 D +8
Zapata D +20 R +5 R +7 R +2
Dimmit D +26 D +24 D +24 -0-
Zavala D +47 D +31 D +35 D +4
Brooks D +29 D +19 D +21 D +2
Jim Hogg D +30 D +18 D +15 R +3
La Salle R +0.2 R +12 R +7 D +5
Kinney R +50 R +50 R +55 R +12
McMullen R +84 R +79 R +85 R +6
Source: New York Times






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