Cameron County, candidates prepare for District 34 special election

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Cameron County residents have a long slate of elections leading up to June.

County and municipal elections will be held on May 7, and a special election has been ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott to fill retired Congressman Filemon Vela's former seat, which has the potential to flip from blue to red. 

The special election is one of two options the governor had when Vela resigned from his post early.

RELATED: Abbott calls June 14 special election for South Texas congressional seat that Republicans want to flip  

"One would be to leave the position vacant and hold the election in conjunction with the November general election coming up later this year, or he could call an emergency election, a special election, to be held on the date of his choosing," said Cameron County Elections Administrator Remi Garza. 

Former Cameron County commissioner and assistant district attorney Dan Sanchez is looking to keep the seat blue. His goal is to create a plan for the future.

"Regardless of what party you're in, our needs are the same," Sanchez said. "So, if I go to Washington, putting together a plan for South Texas and District 34, I would hope that that plan would continue, whoever's elected."

Sanchez's opponent is already running for the re-drawn seat in November. Republican Mayra Flores won her party's primary last month. Flores' goal is finishing the shortened term with an example of what she could bring to voters if elected to a full-term.

READ ALSO: Republicans more than doubled turnout in the Rio Grande Valley compared with the last midterm primary  

"I think we just have the wrong leadership and I want to be able to show this district what real leadership looks like," Flores said.

Flores has momentum as Republicans improve their turnout compared to the last two gubernatorial elections, building nearly 10 percent since 2014.

Overall, Sanchez isn't worried about the impact it'll have for Democrats in November.

"I don't know that it'll have any impact on the general election because it's going to be a different candidate," Sanchez said. 

Flores, however, disagreed, saying voters are telling her that Vela's resignation was the last straw as they flip from Democrat to Republican.

"He abandoned his district for money," Flores said. "He got a lobbying job in D.C. and pretty much [said] 'Screw everyone I'm going to take this job.'"


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