This region’s vibrant Hispanic community played a pivotal role in the 2016 and 2020 elections, thanks to the diligent work of Latinos for Trump. Our engagement efforts then were not merely to garner votes, but to cultivate understanding, to educate and to build lasting relationships.
Fast forward to now: The Republican Party, led by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has bypassed this organic, grassroots connection. Instead, the GOP has opted to recruit Hispanic women candidates who may not necessarily represent the community, but who align with their agenda.
While the presence of these candidates has been effective for fundraising, their ability to secure a significant victory in their own backyard is yet to be seen. The issue here isn’t the capability of these women to lead, but rather the top-down approach that has overshadowed the need for a genuine relationship with the Hispanic community.
South Texas has repeatedly shown its Democratic leanings, but we firmly believe that this isn’t due to an intrinsic alignment with Democratic policies. Instead, it’s a result of an information deficit.
Our recent outreach initiative, a coffee meeting with local moms, proved this point. Most attendees were unaware of the full extent of the Biden administration’s actions or the controversial events taking place in their own towns.
The challenge here is not necessarily political, but educational. And unfortunately, the local news and current political efforts are not meeting this challenge head-on.
The decision by McCarthy to once again ask Mayra Flores to run, despite the slim chance of victory, points to a strategy that seems to prioritize fundraising over genuine community engagement. The fear is that the money raised might be funneled away from South Texas and into other districts.
Meanwhile, Monica De La Cruz, the Republican candidate who couldn’t rally enough support in her own district, is being presented as a staunch Republican representative despite her record of voting with Democrats. The community sees through this. They are cognizant of the political game being played, and it’s a turnoff.
While the situation in South Texas may seem disheartening, it’s not irreversible. However, it demands a fundamental shift in approach. The Hispanic community needs genuine engagement, educational outreach, and candidates who truly represent their values and needs.
As of now, neither Trump nor DeSantis has a comprehensive plan for Hispanic engagement. If this doesn’t change, flipping District 34 and others like it might remain a distant dream. Hispanics represent a vital and influential demographic, and their voice is essential to the future of American politics.
It’s time for the GOP to move beyond mere fundraising and token representation. It’s time to invest in education, genuine community engagement and the cultivation of local leaders who truly represent the communities they serve. Only then can we hope to see a political shift in regions like South Texas.
Bianca Gracia is the co-founder and president of the Latinos for Trump Organization, and the founder and executive director of Latinos for America First PAC. She previously worked as Statewide Hispanic Engagement Director for the Republican Party of Texas and State Director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition. She is also President of Leaderes de la Comunidad, President of Americanos Conservative United, and was a former State Director and Advisor for Blexit Texas.
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