Flores will be the first Mexican-born woman elected to Congress. She benefited from a significant investment by national Republicans and relative indifference from Democrats, who were outspent by an estimated 20 to 1.
Republicans zeroed in on the race as part of an effort to project growing strength with moderate and conservative Hispanic voters in South Texas.
The National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday called Flores’ win a “blue print for success in South Texas,” according to a memo obtained by CNN.
“A Democrat will represent TX-34 in January. If Republicans spend money on a seat that is out of their reach in November, great,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Monica Robinson told CNN before the special election. The committee dipped into the race late, spending $100,000 on digital ads earlier this month.
“I’m pleased to see Democrats mobilizing around this race,” he told CNN, “but South Texas needs sustained investment from the party.”
Sanchez, in a statement conceding the race hours later, was less diplomatic. He expressed confidence that Gonzalez would win in November and denounced “out of state interests” for financially backing Flores, but also called out his own party.
“Too many factors were against us,” the former Cameron County commissioner said, “including too little to no support from the National Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”
Republicans and allied outside groups made more significant commitments to Flores, using the campaign to give her a head start in the fall and, beyond the district’s shifting borders, to help bolster their broader attacks on national Democrats.
“This election was a referendum on Democrats’ reckless policies that created a border crisis, led to record-high inflation, and sent gas prices soaring,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Emmer said in a statement after Flores’ win.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story mischaracterized the historical significance of Flores’ win. She will be the first Mexican-born woman elected to Congress.