A political blogger paid by Texas Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez to run campaign ads has aimed racially charged insults at Gonzalez’s Republican opponent, Rep. Mayra Flores, including “Miss Frijoles” and “Princess Pozole,” NBC News reported on Tuesday.
Gonzalez, who currently represents Texas’ recently redrawn 15th congressional district, is running in the 34th district to unseat Flores, who won a special election in June to replace the retired Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. and is the first Mexican-born congresswoman in U.S. history.
“I’m famous for giving people nicknames,” Texas-based blogger Jerry McHale, who runs The McHale Report, told Latino Rebels.
The “nicknames” began appearing on McHale’s blog three days after Rep. Gonzalez’s campaign paid the site $1,200 on June 24 for “advertising services,” according to a finance report submitted to the Federal Election Commission by the Gonzalez campaign.
On Monday, Flores called out Gonzalez on Twitter, saying he “hired a local blogger to run hateful & racist ads against [her].”
My far left opponent, Vincent Gonzalez, hired a local blogger to run hateful & racist ads against me!
But, I love frijoles & I grew up eating frijoles. I am not embarrassed of my upbringings & frijoles w/tortillas de harina is simply the best. Here's to Miss Frijoles 2022 #TX34 pic.twitter.com/7z5SRGCfUv
— Mayra Flores (@MayraFlores2022) July 18, 2022
McHale, who identifies as a liberal Democrat and describes himself as the “Rush Limbaugh of the left,” told Latino Rebels that he’s been “blasting” Flores since March and that Gonzalez did not pay for any of the posts against Flores.
“It was unfortunate. My campaign advertises on all kinds of networks and platforms, and we have no influence on the content,” Gonzalez told Latino Rebels.
“I clearly condemn what was said—no different than I condemn Donald Trump for saying that Mexico doesn’t send their best and that they send rapists and murderers,” he added. “It’s just as offensive to me.”
While Rep. Gonzalez may not be willing to adopt Trump’s vitriolic strategy, McHale is.
“At this blog we are committed to defeating all Republicans,” McHale wrote on Tuesday. “If we have to implement some of ex-President Donald ‘Duck’ Trump’s tactics in order to achieve our ends, we won’t think twice about following his tactics.”
“We never advertise with that type of group,” said Gonzalez. “I don’t advertise with Fox Network. I hope my opponent can also condemn Donald Trump for the same type of remarks that he made, which were much more egregious, in fact.”
McHale insists that the stories posted on his blog are separate from any paid advertisement services he provides to candidates.
“I run their advertising, and then I write my stories,” he said.
Gonzalez told Latino Rebels that he has requested a refund from McHale. McHale told Latino Rebels that he plans to refund the money.
Flores avoided answering any questions in person on Capitol Hill regarding McHale’s insults.
When reached for comment, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ communications director, Sebastian Roa, said: “We don’t comment on campaign matters.”
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials said it usually does not comment on such incidents, but responded to further requests for comment.
“Racial and ethnic slurs against Latinos —whether they are elected officials, running for office, or are our fellow neighbors— have no place in any discourse,” said Arturo Vargas, CEO of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said in a statement sent to Latino Rebels. “Such bigoted rhetoric is never acceptable.”
Pablo Manríquez contributed to this report.
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