Republicans will be in charge of redistricting before the 2018 midterm elections, and Vela’s vote share shrank in the 2020 election.
The second House Democrat to announce their retirement in what may be a challenging election season for the ruling party is Democratic Rep. Filemón Vela. He announced on Monday.
After former President, Donald Trump performed well in the area and Vela’s victory margin shrunk, the district with a majority of Latinos that stretches from the eastern Rio Grande Valley up north into San Antonio was recognized as a prospective GOP target in 2022.
Redistricting will take months before the exact district boundaries for the upcoming election are established. However, Republicans have complete control over the updated maps in Texas, where Democrats claim they are preparing for more competitive races overall in the upcoming election.
As a member of Congress and vice chair of the DNC, Vela stated in a statement, “I will continue to focus on retaining a Democratic House and Senate majority while working relentlessly for the people I am so honored to represent.”
Due to Trump’s electoral success in the area in 2020, Vela’s margin of victory shrank. In 2020, he defeated Rey Gonzalez, an underfunded opponent, with 55% of the vote. He received 60% of the vote against the same opponent.
The pressure on Vela and Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez, who represent adjourning districts, have increased in light of Trump’s surprising electoral win among Latino voters in the Rio Grande Valley and the imminent redistricting of Texas.
Trump’s victories in the valley, according to Cuellar and Gonzalez, were an aberration, and if Trump is removed from the ballot, Democrats will gain ground. Republicans, meanwhile, are keen to take advantage of the 2020 results and will be able to divide the area during redistricting. In the upcoming reapportionment, which will be revealed next month, Texas is expected to gain two or three seats.]
Before 2020, Brownsville and a portion of McAllen were part of the 300-mile-long Vela’s seat, which was firmly Democratic territory. In 2012 and 2016, Democratic presidential contenders won it with almost 60% of the vote, but Joe Biden only garnered 52% in 2020.
The first Democrat in the House to announce their retirement was Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) last week. Axios broke the news of Vela’s retirement first.
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