HARLINGEN, Texas (Border Report) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez was able to successfully switch South Texas border districts and maintain a seat in Congress on Tuesday after defeating a sitting Republican congresswoman.

Gonzalez will return to Washington, D.C., for a fourth term after unseating U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, in Texas’ 34th Congressional District.

Gonzalez garnered 54 percent of the vote to beat Flores, who picked up just under 43 percent, according to unofficial returns from the Texas Secretary of State. Independent Chris Royal got 3 percent of the vote.

“The people of South Texas have spoken. They have chosen someone with a track record of bringing vital resources to South Texas. I look forward to representing the people of the 34th Congressional District of Texas and working to continue delivering for South Texas,” Gonzalez said after results were announced late Tuesday.

“I hope all of us can come together and work for the betterment of all South Texans and Americans, regardless of political affiliation. It is on all of us to ensure we hold up the work of those who have come before us and that we leave a better America for those who come after,” he said.

Gonzalez currently represents Texas’ 15th Congressional District but after the GOP-led Texas Legislature redrew the boundaries, Gonzalez found his McAllen home now in the 34th where he launched a campaign against Flores.

(Graphic by Texas Legislature)

Flores, a staunch conservative, was elected this summer in a special election after Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, suddenly retired from this Gulf Coast border district that includes Brownsville, Texas.

As a sitting member of Congress, Flores entered the race with some momentum of her own, but lost in a district that became favorable to Democrats when it was redrawn.

“While there was a red wave nationally, in the lower Valley it’s more like a drizzle or a blue damn held back the red wave,” Andrew Smith, a political science professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, told Border Report.

Gonzalez is a moderate who supports a woman’s right to choose and voted with other Democrats in 2021 to codify abortion rights.

He believes in strong border security and alternative technology that is less intrusive to help Border Patrol agents patrol the southern border.

In September, he filed the Safe Zones Act that would require migrants to make their claims for asylum on the southern border of Mexico with Guatemala — not the United States. If they are accepted, they would fly directly to their destination U.S. cities, without crossing into South Texas.

“They could not go through Mexico under this law. If they showed up at our border without having checked into that safe zone they would be immediately removed back to that safe zone. This is the only real proposal in the country that would address what we’re dealing with,” Gonzalez told Border Report on Thursday as he cast his vote in the tiny town of Elsa, Texas. “It would take the cartels out of it. It would bring safety and security to our southern border and would allow law enforcement and Border Patrol to do the job they’re meant to do.”

Flores last week also co-sponsored immigration legislation, called the Justice for Victims of Open Borders Act, that would require states to give priority to victims of violent crimes that are committed by those who are not legally in the United States.

Gonzalez is a lawyer who serves on the House Financial Services Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com