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Tipsheet

Meet the 6 Latina GOP Candidates That Are Driving Democrats Nuts

Townhall Media

With the 2022 midterm elections two weeks away, candidates on both sides of the political aisle are in the final stages of campaigning to win more voters before they head to the polls. This year's election cycle includes a wave of Latino candidates, particularly Latina GOP candidates, running to flip the House to a Republican majority. 

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This shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to the Wall Street Journal, “working class Latino voters” are becoming a new “pillar of the Republican Party” due largely to ideological differences over the economy, education, immigration, and family values. An NBC News/Telemundo poll released Oct. 2 found that Democrats still maintain a majority of Latino support, but that support has noticeably declined over the past decade. On the issues of the economy and crime, Latinos surveyed in the poll shared that they prefer Republican leadership, and only 42 percent support Biden's handling of border security and immigration.

Reports from left-leaning outlets, including CNN, acknowledge that this shifting demographic could swing major races in Democratic congressional districts. 

“Latino voters play an outsize role in the battlegrounds that will determine control of Congress later this year,” Politico wrote on Oct. 16. Another report from the outlet acknowledged that “House Republicans could be on track to increase their number of Latino members in 2023 by 50 percent — or more — after concerted recruitment efforts and a slew of summer primary wins by Hispanic and Latino candidates from Oregon to Texas to Virginia.”

Due to Biden’s failing policies on countless issues, several Latina Republicans have come forward to challenge Democrats in the election in the hopes of flipping their seats, including in historically-blue districts near the U.S.-Mexico border. A recent Vox article says, “If there’s a red wave in 2022, it will be powered by Latina candidates.” From Texas to Virginia, here are six of them.

Rep. Mayra Flores (TX-34)

Mexican-born Rep. Mayra Flores flipped a seat historically held by Democrats in a special election in June after her predecessor, Rep. Filemon Vela (D), unexpectedly resigned from Congress. Flores kept the campaign momentum going as she’s up for reelection next month and plans to keep her seat in the House.

As Townhall covered, Flores’ district covers areas of the Rio Grande Valley that had not been represented by a Republican since 1870 until her win, which signaled the start of the anticipated “red wave” this November.

“The fact that a Republican won in one of the most Hispanic districts in America is, you know, it’s game-changing, regardless of the circumstances,” a Republican political consultant, Mike Madrid, told Time.

Predictably, after Flores' historic win, Democrats lost it, showcasing how progressives do not celebrate women shattering the glass ceiling if they’re Republican. The New York Times dubbed Flores a “far-right Latina,” and her November opponent, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), claimed she “stole” her seat from her special election opponent, Dan Sanchez, and even claimed that Flores “can’t think for herself, can’t speak for herself, can’t act for herself, can’t vote for herself.”

Despite these baseless, misogynistic attacks, several reports have indicated that Flores is on the path to victory for the second time this year. According to a recent report by The Texas Tribune, Republicans substantially outraised Democrats over the summer in all three congressional races in South Texas. Flores more than tripled Gonzalez’s fundraising, $1.6 million to $497,000. And, she’s not the only Latina candidate from a border town-encompassing district to out-fundraise her Democratic opponent.

Running on a platform focused on border security, family values, and “America first” policies, Flores, who is a mother, Border Patrol wife, and legal immigrant to the United States, told Townhall that she appeals to the traditional values of her majority-Hispanic district, something the Democratic Party has abandoned over the years.

“I really believe that the Democratic Party just took us for granted here in South Texas. They’ve done nothing for us for decades. They think that because they have a ‘D’ after their last name that they’re always going to get reelected,” Flores told Townhall in an interview. 

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“Hispanics want to be taken seriously. They’re Americans too. And they don’t get treated like it by the Democratic Party,” she added. “So many of us, like myself, who immigrated to the United States, we came here for opportunities, and we see that those opportunities are being taken away from us and that our kids are not going to be able to have the same opportunities that we had being born here in the United States.”

“The Democratic Party completely just abandoned the Hispanic community’s values and the Hispanic community’s needs,” she continued, noting that her congressional district is 90 percent Hispanic. 

On the border issue, Flores pointed out that Biden’s open border policies have impacted her district “tremendously.”

“This open border policy under the Biden administration is hurting not just Americans, it’s hurting immigrants as well. These immigrants go through sexual abuse, have to pay thousands of dollars to criminal organizations to come here to the United States,” she explained. “If we care about immigrants, we should be focusing on legal immigration and improving the legal process so they’re able to come here to the United States, but it doesn’t take 10 years, 15 years to come here.”

Flores added that “sanctuary cities” like New York City need to “step up” and do their part to help with the border crisis.

“They have encouraged people to come here illegally, and it’s because of them that these people are in this horrible situation,” she said. 

As for the Martha’s Vineyard situation, specifically, Flores shared that she “doesn’t understand how anybody cannot be offended by that.” Townhall covered how residents of Martha’s Vineyard, which has styled itself as a sanctuary city, sent off 50 immigrants sent to the island by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) to a military base on Cape Cod less than two days after they arrived.

“These people claim that they’re for immigrants. They’re not for immigrants. They’re all about themselves and their political party,” Flores said. “They’re playing politics with human lives.”

Going into the midterms, Flores said that she treats her district “like her family” and that “taking care of them is what [she is] obligated to do.”

“These are my people. I want to see my people here in T-34 prosper,” she said. “I believe that we have the ingredients to do it. We’re people of strong faith in God, strong family values, and all about hard work. It’s in our DNA.”

Monica De La Cruz (TX-15)

Like Flores, congressional candidate Monica De La Cruz is running for office in a historically Democrat, a majority-Hispanic district in South Texas. De La Cruz’s district, TX-15, is represented by Flores’ opponent, Gonzalez. Due to redistricting, De La Cruz is running against progressive Democrat Michelle Vallejo in the midterm elections.

Growing up in Brownsville, Texas, De La Cruz has seen firsthand the deterioration of the security of the international border and the issues that have stemmed from it, making it an issue at the forefront of her campaign. De La Cruz’s grandmother immigrated to the United States as a young child to flee political injustice in Mexico, and her grandfather was a first-generation American. 

“Out of touch liberals think Hispanics love open borders, but nothing could be further from the truth,” De La Cruz told Townhall in an email. “Open borders are dangerous for migrants, and they are dangerous for Americans.”

De La Cruz’s district encompasses McAllen, one of the border towns bearing the brunt of the ongoing border crisis. Townhall’s Julio Rosas has extensively reported the illegal crossings into McAllen that occur day in, and day out.

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“We know all too well what Joe Biden’s weak border policy means for our community because every day, South Texans hear of horror stories — from migrant women and children dying in their journeys to gangs and cartels crossing our border and terrorizing our communities — that the rest of the country never learns about, and that frankly, much of the media would rather ignore,” De La Cruz explained to Townhall, referring to the migrant buses that have been transporting illegal immigrants to “sanctuary” cities like New York City, generating complaints and threats of lawsuits from their Democratic leaders.

“It’s easy for elitists to be indifferent toward open borders from the comfort of Manhattan, but the people who live in McAllen — most of whom are Hispanic — know the danger that open borders represent to our nation,” she said.

De La Cruz has received endorsements by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and 15+ House Republicans, the National Border Patrol Council, and former President Donald Trump. And former UN ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley recently campaigned in South Texas with De La Cruz and Flores.

The Tribune reported that De La Cruz outraised Vallejo over the summer, generating just over $1 million to her opponent's $867,000. And, TX-15 has generated headlines over state Democrats’ frustration with their national counterparts for “insufficient support” in the battleground district.

“I’m really, deeply disappointed in the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee],” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa told the Tribune in a report published Oct. 11. “If we lose this election, it’s completely on them.”

Cassy Garcia (TX-28)

Another South Texas Latina running to flip a seat in the House is Casandra “Cassy” Garcia, the Republican candidate in the state’s 28th congressional district. Then-President Trump appointed Garcia in July 2020 as Commissioner for the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative and later was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s deputy state director.

Garcia’s opponent is longtime Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has been representing the district since 2004. Townhall reported in January that the FBI searched Cuellar’s home and office in Laredo as he is currently under investigation. 

According to the Tribune, Garcia raised $1.7 million over the summer. She has received endorsements from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY). She was born and raised in Edinburg, Texas, and served as a regional field representative for the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture.

“Growing up in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, I was raised on three core principles: Faith, Family, and Freedom,” Garcia said on Twitter during her campaign. “People across this district are hungry for a new voice in Washington, one that inspires hope and is focused on creating jobs, protecting innocent life, and upholding our Constitutional rights. I pledge to work tirelessly every day to make the American dream possible for every citizen and family that calls District 28 home.”

Like Flores and De La Cruz, Garcia is focused on flipping her majority-Hispanic district red. On the issues, she is pro-life and pro-border security and advocates for law enforcement, small businesses, and family values. 

“Our movement is growing! Hispanics do not come to this great country to be treated like victims or lectured on pronouns by woke liberals. We believe in the American Dream, faith, hard work, strong borders, and opportunity,” Garcia told WinRed.

In an interview with the New York Post, Garcia shared that she is the wife of a Border Patrol agent and that Biden’s escalating border crisis inspired her to run for office. 

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“[He] says the administration is not doing its job and not enforcing laws that are on the books; he has seen it all getting worse,” Garcia told The Post. “There is a morgue in Laredo that is at capacity with the bodies of unidentified immigrants.”

“Children die because the mothers [trying to get across for illegal entry into the United States] don’t realize how fast the current is,” Garcia added. “Every single day, the agents do search-and-rescue and pull bodies up from the river. One mother was trying to come across and lost the grip of two children. The four-year-old drowned, and the one-year-old was pulled out but died.”

In the interview, Garcia said that she wants to “provide a voice” and knows what needs to be done to secure the border. 

“Come November, people will show that they are sick and tired of what they are seeing,” she said.

This month, Haley also endorsed Garcia, another indicator that South Texas is on the verge of flipping red. 

“She’ll put a stop to reckless spending, secure the border, and restore law and order,” Haley said in her endorsement. “Cassy Garcia is Texas tough, and she’s not afraid to punch back on Biden’s reckless agenda that has devastated the Lone Star State.”

Catalina Lauf (IL-11)

Running to flip a seat in America’s heartland is Catalina Lauf, who is up against longtime Democratic Rep. Bill Foster, who was first elected to Congress in 2012. Lauf is a second-generation Latin American and was one of the youngest presidential appointees at the United States Department of Commerce. 

“[IL-11] is really a district that just embodies the Midwest when it comes to the Midwestern American values and just exemplifies the American heartland,” Lauf told Townhall in an interview. The district includes Kane, DuPage, McHenry, and Will counties, outside of Chicago.

Lauf, who grew up in the district, shared with me how her opponent is out-of-touch with voters in her district and how the American dream is at stake under the Biden administration.

“I’ve just seen the rise of the far left members of Congress, like my opponent, and how they fundamentally do not represent the constituents of this district,” she said, mentioning that Foster has voted “100 percent” with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

“We need to elect people who are pro-growth, pro-America, and bring back the Midwestern values that seem to be lost. Our voices have been lost,” Lauf added. “I was born and raised here. I felt like it was a civic duty to come home and try to flip the seat and try to represent the people in the district I know and love.” 

A recent report from The Chicago Tribune indicated that Foster would garner support in the newly-drawn district over one issue: abortion. However, Townhall has covered how abortion has not been the “rallying cry” for the Democrats that they expected after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. And, in several polls, abortion is not listed as the No.1 issue for voters. Rather, voters care more about the economy and immigration, which is on par with Lauf’s primary issues in her campaign.

“The issues that matter here are the economy, crime and safety, and immigration reform,” Lauf explained. “He [Foster] has shown that he has not been an ally to his constituents when he votes on regressive economic policies, inflation…he has shown that he has not supported our law enforcement…he fundamentally does not represent this district and the issues that we care about out here.”

Though not running in a border state, Lauf explained that immigration is still a “top issue” for her constituents. 

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“It impacts districts like ours. Just recently, Gov. Abbot sent hundreds of illegal immigrants to Cook County. A lot of those were pushed out to the suburbs,” she said. “We want safe and secure communities. A lot that’s coming from the border are labor, drugs, sex trafficking. That doesn’t just impact again, border towns, this impacts states as a whole as a well, even up here in the Midwest.”

Given Illinois’ longstanding Democratic leadership, another issue plaguing Lauf’s district is parental rights regarding their children’s education. Lauf told me that a recently passed state law allows schools to hide transgender students “preferred pronouns” and “chosen name” from parents, among other things.

“Illinois has some of the most bizarre state laws that have been passed recently [about schools],” Lauf said. “Gov. Pritzker just passed a law requiring tampons in little boys' bathrooms. It’s insane. We need common sense back. Parents should not be co-parenting with the government. The things that our kids are learning are ridiculous, and we need to make sure that our parents have a say and know what they’re kids are being taught. And in a state like Illinois, those laws are getting more and more ridiculous.”

Lauf noted how mothers in her district who’ve never been active in politics before are now becoming involved because of some of the outrageous curricula and policies.

“We need to rein in these teachers that are teaching this bizarre curriculum and the politicians that are pushing it,” she said. 

During Trump’s presidency, Lauf was appointed to serve in the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. She told me she was “deeply honored” to be picked for the role because it showed her how Republican leadership and good economic policies helped people like her constituents.

“We need to ensure that we have people who advocate for a free enterprise system, focus on deregulation, focus on cutting taxes so that our American middle class and business can thrive,” Lauf said. “I was really honored to be a witness to all of the work that was done during that administration at the Dept. of Commerce, and it was really the cornerstone of what made our economy great.”

“You’re seeing kind of the opposite of that now, you’re seeing what happens when you have Democrats in Congress, when you have people who focus on regressive economic policies, that don’t focus on the free enterprise system, that prioritize their pet projects instead of prioritize the American people.”

Yesli Vega (VA-7)

Running in Virginia’s 7th congressional district is Yesli Vega, a military wife, and law enforcement officer who is up against Democratic incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger. Townhall reported how Spanberger pulled out of a debate against Vega this month because our own Larry O’Connor was selected as the moderator.  

Vega was born to Salvadoran immigrants who fled the civil war. She grew up in Virginia and entered law enforcement following a tragedy caused by gang members, resulting in a friend losing his life and her brother being severely wounded. In our interview, Vega shared with Townhall how her experience in law enforcement has shaped her approach to issues, such as “defunding the police.”

“I got into law enforcement as a result of a family tragedy that almost took the life of my younger brother. He was viciously gunned down and nearly killed by MS-13. So when I hear career politicians like Nancy Pelosi defending these criminals, I take it personal. These are not stories that I’ve read in the paper or something that somebody’s shared with me, these are the shoes that I’ve walked and I wish that I could tell you that my family had quite a happy ending but unfortunately that is not the truth,” Vega told me in our interview. “And, we’ve seen what this dangerous ‘defund the police’ movement has caused for our communities where crime has gone up and continues to go up.”

“I’ve seen firsthand the impact of what [Democratic] policies can do, and at the end of the day, who pay the price for reckless policies are law-abiding citizens and innocent bystanders. I’m very passionate about ensuring that we get to a place where we restore the rule of law,” she added.

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A recent report from The Washington Post described Vega’s race as “highly competitive,” given that Virginia elected Republican Gov. Glen Youngkin last year. He recently endorsed Vega. And, Vega’s congressional race “follows a broader trend of the GOP running with more diverse candidates,” such as Attorney General Jason S. Miyares and Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears. And, in 2018, Vega ran for the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and won a seat in the general election in a Democrat-leading region during a “blue wave.”

Since Vega assumed her role on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, she said that she had garnered support from Democrats and Independents who are happy with her work at the local level. The decisions she makes on the board entail land-use policies, the budget, schools, and public safety, among other issues.

“We’ve been fighting the good fight, if you will, pushing back against government lockdowns, mandates, fighting to get our kids back in school, and folks have been very pleased with what we’ve been doing,” she explained. “I bring a different style of governing, if you will because as a law enforcement officer, I’ve been exposed to a lot of things. I’ve seen a lot of things. I’m very happy to be able to serve in the capacity that I serve right now and feel very blessed.”

Townhall has reported how several Virginia school districts have been in the headlines recently for carrying out gender identity transitions for students behind parents’ backs. As a result, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin put forward new guidance for school districts to follow that prohibits this kind of behavior as well as unveil new policies surrounding curriculum on sexual orientation and gender identity. As a mother, Vega supports keeping parents involved in their child’s education and pointed out how Spanberger supports taking away parents’ rights.

“As a mother of two, I have every right to know what’s happening in my child’s life inside of the classroom but outside of the classroom. It’s common sense, it’s a fundamental right that parents have, and nobody’s going to deny me that right as a mother,” Vega said.

“I find it troubling that my opponent actually voted a few weeks ago against parental consent before anybody in the school can talk to a child about gender identity or gender ideology, and that’s just another point to prove how extreme my opponent is on these issues,” she continued.

As for the upcoming election, Vega pointed out that Spanberger’s lengthy record of green-lighting every policy coming from Democrats and the Biden administration is out-of-touch with Virginia voters.

“It’s her voting record. Right? It speaks for itself. We have somebody in my opponent that literally transforms every single election year, and people are tired of it. They’ve seen exactly who she is, and it doesn’t matter what she says because at the end her voting record speaks for itself. It’s one where she supports Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi 100 percent of the time,” Vega said.

“When it’s all said and done, I have a voting record. She has a voting record. They speak for itself. People want common sense. People want somebody who is going to help get the government back to where it’s working for the people and not the other way around,” she added.

Anna Paulina Luna (FL-13)

Anna Paulina Luna is running to flip a House seat vacated by former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who left the position to challenge Republican incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis in the midterms. Luna, an Air Force veteran, was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the race.

Anna grew up in one of Southern California’s low-income communities with parents who separated when she was very young. Anna’s website notes that her mother chose life after her father asked her for an abortion. At age nine, Anna experienced an armed robbery and survived. In high school, a fatal gang shooting occurred at her school while she was on campus. She lost her cousin to an act of violence while still a teenager. At age 19, Anna joined the U.S. Air Force, where she met her husband, Andy.

After Andy sustained an injury serving in Afghanistan, the two became involved in several veteran-focused organizations. Luna also joined Turning Point USA as the National Director of Hispanic Engagement. Her website states that she is “committed to showing people that there is another way” and that big government is the problem, not the solution. 

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“For people like myself who do come from just a very average upbringing and background, this is not sustainable,” Luna said of Biden’s economic policies during our conversation. She’s even bought chickens due to the cost of eggs.

In an interview with Townhall, Luna agreed that the issue of immigration and border security is one major factor swaying Hispanics to vote Republican in the midterms. 

“You saw this pivot and shift by the establishment DNC really push open borders, and they thought that that would be a way to get the Hispanic [support], and as you’re seeing, it massively backfired,” she said, adding that she supported DeSantis’ decision to send 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

“I support what he did because he really showcased the hypocrisy that leftists and these very progressive Democrats have in regards to using these illegal immigrants as political pawns. They don’t care what happens to them. They really were trying to target the Hispanic demographic and it backfired, and now they don’t want to deal with it. And they’ve caused this issue,” Luna said, adding that once she’s in Congress, she will extensively work on the issue of illegal immigration. 

Another hot-button issue in Florida that made headlines is the Parental Rights in Education law, which liberals nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The law does not allow schools to teach children in third grade and younger about sexual orientation and gender identity. Townhall reported how a new state rule reinforces the law by stripping educators who intentionally teach such curriculum of their licenses.

“When I am elected, I will be absolutely sponsoring a parental rights bill to keep teachers and people in the education system from talking to children under the age of third grade about anything in regards to sex,” Luna shared.

Earlier this year, Luna met with Trump and received his endorsement for her run for Congress. 

“It was an incredible experience, and I’m very happy to have his support,” she said, adding that Hispanic voters are embracing the Republican Party more now that Democrats, including those at the top of the party, have shown their “true colors.” 

“This is how establishment Democrats view us, and by us, I mean Hispanics,” she added. “First of all, they have falsely branded illegal immigrants as all being Hispanic. You can look at the stats, and that’s far from the truth,” she explained. “Secondly, you had Jill Biden and Nancy Pelosi, and within a six-month time period, not only refer to Hispanic Americans as ‘breakfast tacos,’ which is insanely insulting, but then you had Nancy Pelosi imply that we need illegal immigration because we need crop pickers here in Florida. So the fact is they look down on Hispanic Americans as the help. And that is exactly why, regardless of what they call us now, whether they’re calling us crop-pickers or breakfast tacos, after November, they’ll be calling us Republicans and they will respect us as Republicans.”

 

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