Ongoing hopes of Democrats to turn Texas blue may have taken a hit with the election of GOP mayor in a city in the Rio Grande Valley.
City commissioner and Republican candidate Javier Villalobos narrowly defeated Democrat Veronica Whitacre by about 200 votes in a runoff for mayor of McAllen Texas, the largest city in Hidalgo County, near the Mexican border. The incumbent Democrat did not seek reelection.
Attorney and businessman Villalobos, 55, who previously was appointed to a statewide higher-education board by Gov. Greg Abbott, is the former chair of the Hidalgo County GOP. He will serve a four-year term. Villalobos was also narrowly the top vote-getter in the first round of voting in May in a multi-candidate field in the Democrat stronghold.
While the election was officially/technically nonpartisan, and it is often said that all politics is local, the party affiliations of the candidates presumably were no secret. Whether this outcome is a harbinger of further realignment as the 2022 midterms approach remains to be seen.
McAllen has a majority Hispanic population in a county which voted for Joe Biden by about just 17 percent in Election 2020 and a much more sizable margin for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Obama in 2012.
The outcome represents perhaps a bipartisan rebuke of Biden’s open-borders policy which has created a humanitarian, public health, and law enforcement crisis, one which is especially being felt by border communities like McAllen.
“Javier Villalobos is a proven leader who cares deeply about the people of the Rio Grande Valley,” Abbott wrote on Facebook.
The city’s outgoing mayor told USA Today that “we get the brunt” of illegal immigration arrivals because of a bus station where migrants queue up to obtain transportation to other destinations after they are processed by Customs and Border Protection officials.
The news outlet also pointed out that McAllen “happens to be the shortest route for Central American migrants making their way to the USA.”
Shortly after Election 2020, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Texas Democrat who has been critical of the Biden administration’s response to the border crisis, told the Texas Tribune that “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. It’s homogenous, deeply religious, pensively patriotic, socially conservative, and it’s hurting economically.”
The Tribune also noted that President Trump was very competitive in counties along the Texas-Mexico border. “Trump won 14 of the 28 counties that Clinton had nearly swept in 2016 while winning by an average of 33 percentage points. This year those same counties went for Biden by an average of just 17 points.”
Conservative influencers hailed Villalobos’ victory as a continuation of this trend.
“Amazing news! McAllen, Texas is a major border town of 140,000 people. 85% Hispanic — and just elected a Republican mayor. The macro realignment accelerates in South Texas, and elsewhere, as Hispanics rally to America First,” wrote ex-Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes on Twitter, for example.
Amazing news! McAllen, Texas is a major border town of 140,000 people. 85% Hispanic — and just elected a Republican mayor.
The macro realignment accelerates in South Texas, and elsewhere, as Hispanics rally to America First:
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) June 6, 2021
Liberal Twitter tried to downplay the outcome, but others were on the same page as Cortes.
Holy cow… Republicans just flipped the mayorship of McAllen, Texas.
This was not expected and shows Hispanics in South Texas may have shifted with the GOP even post Trumphttps://t.co/bFOMpNcNrS
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) June 6, 2021
BIG win for Republicans tonight in a border community.
Biden’s border crisis has real world ramifications for communities across the country, especially in cities like McAllen. https://t.co/9FrUuWfx3Y
— Nathan Brand (@NathanBrandWA) June 6, 2021
Republicans just won a mayoral election in southern Texas, taking it from the radical leftist Dems. Further proof that we do not have to pander to ethnic groups. We all want LAW AND ORDER! #AmericaFirst #SaveAmerica 🇺🇸https://t.co/fqjMv6TPHc
— Joe Kent for WA-3 (@joekent16jan19) June 6, 2021
Congratulations to Javier Villalobos. The City of McAllen is now in the hands of a conservative Republican leader! @CityofMcAllen#SouthTexas #RGVProud #GodBlessTexas #SomosRepublicanos pic.twitter.com/TstiYZfISf
— Mayra Flores For Congress🇺🇸🦅 (@MayraFlores2022) June 6, 2021
Let’s do this!!! GOP!
— evelyn riley (@evriley) June 6, 2021
And hispanics are more likely to be catholic.
The blue team hasn’t been kind to christianity lately.
— 𝓒𝓥𝓲 (@C4Vi) June 6, 2021
Not surprising, @texasdemocrats have been silent on the border crisis.
— Congrats! You elected the 1% (@hpygoluki) June 6, 2021
Hopefully a sign of things to come in the midterms!
— DClark (@tweeting_dc) June 6, 2021
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