Vicente Gonzalez to run in different Texas district after Abbott signs new map

Vicente Gonzalez to run in different Texas district after Abbott signs new map
© Greg Nash

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) will run for reelection next year in Texas’ 34th Congressional District after state Republicans approved a new congressional map that makes his current 15th District much more competitive.

Gonzalez previously floated a potential district swap after Republican state lawmakers unveiled a new congressional map that would turn his once-Democratic-leaning district into one that former President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE would have carried in 2020. He made it official on Tuesday, announcing that he would seek reelection in Texas’ much-bluer 34th District, which is currently represented by retiring Rep. Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaDemocrats brace for flood of retirements after Virginia rout Showdown: Pelosi dares liberals to sink infrastructure bill Vicente Gonzalez to run in different Texas district after Abbott signs new map MORE (D-Texas).

Vela has said he would support Gonzalez’s decision to switch districts. Gonzalez’s plans were first reported on Tuesday by The Texas Tribune.

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His announcement came a day after Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg Abbott One-quarter in Texas unwilling, unlikely to get vaccinated: poll Overnight Energy & Environment — White House announces new climate office Hispanic support for Republicans' hardline immigration policies may keep Texas red MORE (R) signed into law a new congressional map that would effectively shore up the GOP’s power in the state while offering little in the way of new political representation to the minority communities driving much of its growth.

The new congressional map has already garnered legal challenges. Critics allege the new map discriminates against minority communities even as data from the 2020 census shows that people of color accounted for 95 percent of the state’s population growth over the past decade.

The new map also moves many of the 15th District’s voters — and Gonzalez’s residence — into the 34th District. 

If Gonzalez had remained in the 15th District, he would have likely faced a challenging bid to hold onto his seat. He won reelection last year by roughly 3 percentage points, while President BidenJoe BidenSouth Africa health minister calls travel bans over new COVID variant 'unjustified' Biden attends tree lighting ceremony after day out in Nantucket Senior US diplomat visiting Southeast Asia to 'reaffirm' relations MORE carried the district by just 2 points.

While the move increases Gonzalez’s chances of political survival next year, it will also leave Democrats without a well-known incumbent in the 15th District and raises the possibility of a crowded and competitive primary. 

Democrats are staring down a tough election cycle in 2022. Republicans need to flip a net of just five seats in the House and one in the Senate to recapture control of Congress. The GOP also stands to benefit from the decennial redistricting process, given that Republicans control the legislatures in key states like Texas, Florida and North Carolina, all of which will gain new House seats next year.