South Texas Democratic Races Take Another Turn, With Calls of Victories and Recounts

Jun 6, 2022
6:54 PM

Michelle Vallejo

On Monday afternoon, the Texas Democratic Party canvassed its primary runoff results, and the latest has South Texas progressive Michelle Vallejo leading opponent Ruben Ramirez by 30 votes in the 15th Congressional District, while in the South Texas 28th Congressional District, incumbent moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar leads progressive Jessica Cisneros by 281 votes.

Both Ramirez and Cisneros have requested recounts.

We owe it to the district and the voters of TX-15 to ensure every vote is counted accurately, Ramirez said in a Monday statement after Texas Democrats canvassed county-certified results.

“Our community isn’t done fighting, we are filing for a recount. With just under 0.6 percent of the vote symbolizing such stark differences for the future in South Texas, I owe it to our community to see this through to the end,” Cisneros said in a Monday statement.


Vallejo has been gearing up to defend the 15th Congressional District from getting flipped by Republicans since she announced her victory last Wednesday, eight days after election night.

As counties continued tallying up the votes last Thursday, Vallejo told Latino Rebels, “Since we’ve called it, my mind has been on the general [election]. I really don’t feel like there’s time to lose.”

South Texas has become a national battleground. With just five seats short of the majority, the GOP is targeting the Rio Grande Valley as part of its strategy to regain control of the House next year.

“Vallejo has an uphill battle, in large part because of what happened during the redistricting process, in that 15 was reconfigured from a district that was relatively safe for a Democrat to one that was a toss-up district,” Mark P. Jones, a fellow in political science at Rice University’s Baker Institute, told Latino Rebels.

Last year, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott signed new political maps for the state’s congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts into law. The maps were drawn to maintain Republicans in power in Texas for the next decade. They also restrict the power of voters of color, despite Texans of color accounting for 95% of the state’s population growth in the 2020 census.

“‘Republicans are really targeting this seat as the only one to flip in Texas,” Vallejo told Latino Rebels last Thursday. “It becomes more and more clear to us every day how competitive this race will be nationwide.”

The Republican nominee for the 15th District is Monica De La Cruz. She won her primary in March. In the last election, she ran a close race with then-incumbent Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who’s now running for re-election to the House in Texas’ 34th District.


Republicans also have their eye on the 28th District. The moderate nine-term Cuellar, one of the few remaining Democrats in Congress who opposes abortion, has likely defeated progressive Cisneros for the third time. Latino Rebels reached out to Cisneros for comment, and her campaign said she is holding off interviews.

“There’s just more conservative Democrats there than there are in any other district, and I think that explains Cisneros’ loss quite well,” Split Ticket election analyst Lakshya Jain told Latino Rebels.

“Cuellar is also an incumbent, so even though he might have a scandal with the FBI [raiding his house] and all, his social conservatism and his institutionality in that district really just carried him over the line,” Jain added.

While Cisneros’ push for government spending on healthcare and education aligned with many South Texas Latinos, she lost ground with the constituency on more progressive social issues, such as abortion and LGBTQ rights.


Chantal Vaca is a summer correspondent for Futuro Media based in New York City and a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism. Twitter: @VacaChantal