McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — By just 35 votes, small business owner Michelle Vallejo, 30, has won the Democratic nomination for Texas’ 15th Congressional District and will face Republican nominee Monica De La Cruz in the November election, according to a recount by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

A recount had been requested by candidate Ruben Ramirez, an Army combat veteran, after about two dozen votes separated them for the South Texas border seat following the May 23 runoff election.

“A warm congratulations to Michelle on her victory and for being the candidate who will keep Texas’s 15th Congressional District in Democratic hands this November. Working families across the Valley deserve a representative like Michelle who will fight tooth and nail for South Texans. As a small business owner, community leader, and proud Texan, Michelle Vallejo will bring a critically important background and experience to Congress,” DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney said in a statement released Friday evening.

Small businesswoman Michelle Vallejo has been declared the Democratic nominee for Texas Congressional District 15 by the DCCC after a recount was requested on the South Texas border district. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

“With the recount completed, I am so honored to be the Democratic nominee for Texas’ 15th Congressional District. I thank the hardworking election officials who made sure each and every vote was counted,” Vallejo, who is from Alton, Texas, and runs a neighborhood market that serves thousands weekly, said in a statement.

A recount can be requested if the margin of votes is within 10%.

Texas’ 15th Congressional District borders Mexico, and has traditionally voted Democratic, but redistricting by the Texas Legislature during the last session has left it leaning more conservative as it stretches north.

This is a seat that Republicans have targeted to flip red in the general election, and Politico forecasts a win for Republicans.

“Now, it’s all eyes on November. The stakes couldn’t be higher – Monica De La Cruz is an extremist who is facing serious allegations of cruel and aggressive mistreatment of a family member in her care. The DCCC is hitting the ground running in TX-15, and we look forward to working with Michelle Vallejo from now until Election Day to keep this district in Democratic hands,” Maloney said.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez currently represents the district but is running in Texas’ 34th Congressional District in November after redistricting moved his McAllen home into that district. Some political watchers say that’s a blessing for Gonzalez, who beat De La Cruz by a much closer margin in 2020 than had been expected.

“The stakes this November are too high — Monica De La Cruz is pushing an extreme right wing agenda that would put our rights on the chopping block. Her tactics would strip us of our dignity and our deep South Texas principles of fighting for a better life, like affordable health care for all, livable wages, and bringing good paying jobs to our frontera. Now more than ever, it is time for the Democratic party to unite behind one candidate who will stand up for our home and community’s interests, not the interests of the far right national agenda. I am humbled by TX-15 voters putting their faith in me. I am ready to fight for us all,” Vallejo said. “¡Vamos Por Quince!”

Monica De La Cruz, a Republican, has campaigned hard since losing in 2020. She is the GOP nominee for Texas’ Congressional District 15 for 2022. (Cruz Campaign Photo)

As she prepared to cast her ballot during the first day of early voting on May 16 in McAllen, Vallejo told Border Report that the border needs more permanent immigration solutions.

“We need investments in border infrastructure in order to better secure our home, and that includes investments in our ports of entry for both public and private use; investments in a pathway to citizenship and also an investment in access to asylum,” Vallejo said.

De La Cruz has been actively campaigning throughout the South Texas border ever since the 2020 election. She has been supported by former President Donald Trump and many conservatives and she says she will flip the district red.

“South Texas is finished with the empty promises and failed leadership of the increasingly socialist Democrat Party,” she said in a statement following the runoff. “We will stay laser focused on the issues that matter to our communities: securing the border, stopping inflation, and protecting the American Dream for our families.”

Last week, Republican Mayra Flores won a special election for Texas’ Congressional District 34 to fill out the remaining term that ends in January. She will become the first Mexican-born woman to be elected to Congress and the first GOP candidate to represent the Rio Grande Valley in 150 years.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com