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The newly elected Republican mayor of McAllen, Texas, provided insight over the weekend into the political movement taking place in Hispanic-majority southern Texas, helping make sense of the political realignment happening there.
What is the background?
As TheBlaze reported, the mayorship of McAllen, one of the most important cities on the U.S.-Mexico border, was flipped from blue to red earlier in June.
Javier Villalobos, a Republican, won election to become mayor of the city, which is 85% Hispanic.
Even more important, Hidalgo County, in which McAllen is located, is a deeply blue locale, further signaling a political realignment is taking shape, which appeared to begin in the 2020 presidential election. Hillary Clinton had won Hidalgo County by more than 40 points over Donald Trump in 2016, but Joe Biden won the county by fewer than 20 points over Trump in 2020.
What did Villalobos say?
Mayor-elect Villalobos told Fox News that Hispanic voters, who overwhelmingly compose the electorate in southern Texas, are “opening their eyes” to the realities of the Democratic Party.
And of course, for residents on the border, that’s not difficult, considering the migrant crisis unfolding there.
“Well, during the past election, it’s amazing what happened here in South Texas. I think genuinely the Hispanic community is very conservative, yet, traditionally, they voted Democratic. It’s amazing what happened this past election. I think our numbers as far as conservative voters were up by substantially,” Villalobos said.
“Like I said, traditionally Democrat, however, they are a lot of individuals, including older individuals that have forever voted Democrat, [who] are opening up their eyes, accepting different ideas, both social and economic,” he explained. “And that’s amazing.”
In fact, Villalobos said he expects the momentum to continue in future elections.
“We expect next election, that we will have the same type of results. We have [Republican] candidates now running for Congress, when a lot of times it was very difficult to field a [Republican] candidate down here, especially local elections,” Villalobos predicted. “I think things are going to be changing.”
An issue particularly important to Hispanic voters, of course, is immigration. Villalobos said south Texas Hispanic voters are upset with policies that promote illegal immigration, particularly at the levels being experienced by border cities under President Joe Biden.
“We’re being burdened right now with hundreds, thousands, of immigrants almost daily. And it’s an issue that we shouldn’t be burdened with, our taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for that,” Villalobos said.
What are others saying?
Other politicians from south Texas, including Democrats, have recognized the shifting political winds.
Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), for example, has announced she will not run for re-election and explained in January what’s happening in South Texas.
“Democrats have a big problem in Texas,” Vela said. “For the first time in generations, or maybe ever, we lost … South Texas counties with significant Hispanic populations. And we are going to have to … wrap our arms around exactly why that happened. It may be a difficult issue to reconcile.”
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who represents a congressional district that borders Mexico, has also explained that Hispanic voters are comparable to the core demographic of Trump supporters.
“Aside from Hispanic heritage, most of the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas have similar demographics to Trump’s strongholds in rural communities across the country,” Cuellar told the Texas Tribune. “It’s homogenous, deeply religious, pensively patriotic, socially conservative, and it’s hurting economically.”