Hispanic Caucus endorses Michelle Vallejo in Texas toss-up
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus campaign arm on Monday announced its endorsement of Democrat Michelle Vallejo in an open South Texas House race that’s being aggressively targeted by the GOP.
Bold PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus campaign arm, threw its weight behind Vallejo, a small-business owner who in May won a primary runoff by 30 votes.
“The people of Texas 15 deserve a champion of working Americans and small business owner like Michelle Vallejo to represent them in Congress. Bold PAC is proud to support Michelle and her campaign to focus on solutions for working families of all backgrounds,” Bold PAC Chairman Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said.
“South Texans will have a fighter for their communities in Michelle and we look forward to joining her in that fight here in Washington,” he added.
Vallejo is facing off against GOP nominee Monica De La Cruz, a Rio Grande Valley businesswoman who’s already spent nearly $2 million on her campaign.
The two candidates are competing for an open district that stretches 270 miles from McAllen on the Rio Grande to the outskirts of Austin.
The district was left without an incumbent following redistricting, after Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) decided to run in a neighboring district when former Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) retired from Congress.
Vallejo helps run her family’s flea market, Pulga los Portales, founded two community organizations to support community leaders and minority women in business, and has promoted immigrant rights.
She was supported in her primary by LUPE Votes, the political arm of La Unión del Pueblo Entero, a nonprofit founded by civil rights activists Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
Her pitch as an unabashed progressive, in contrast with her primary opponent’s more moderate stance, is a gamble for the region’s Democrats, who risk losing the district for the first time since its creation in 1903.
While Republicans in the three Rio Grande Valley districts are bullish about their prospects after Mayra Flores’s victory in a special election to fill Vela’s seat earlier this summer, turnout in the special election was low, leading many to question whether it was a sign of things to come.
Vallejo told The Hill that Bold PAC’s endorsement will help her reach more voters in the district.
“One of the most critical needs that we have is to connect with our voters who have largely been disengaged because we need to reach out to them in Spanish through bilingual media and by really knocking on their doors and getting in front of them as much as we can,” said Vallejo.
“And Bold PAC has proven to be a champion of creating diversity and inspiring and empowering diversity in the House,” she added.
Still, Vallejo is running in a district that’s rated as “lean Republican” by The Cook Political report, given the headwinds facing Democrats and a redistricting process that tweaked the district’s borders to slightly favor Republicans.
“What we’re focusing on is the work that we have on hand, which is connecting with our community, connecting one on one, getting in front of them and talking about the real issues that we’re having but also the solutions that need to be heard in D.C.,” said Vallejo.
“And that’s a stark contrast to what my opponent’s approach is, which is quite frankly villainizing everyone in this region, making it seem like people don’t know better by the way that they’ve been voting,” she added.
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