Tag Archives: Rep. Filemon Vela

Texans Planning Moves

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 5, 2021 — The Texas congressional map was unveiled in the state Senate last week, and already many incumbents and challengers are making or announcing political plans based upon what they are seeing … but this congressional plan is a long way from enactment.

In the past few days we have seen Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) concede that he would consider moving to run in the open 34th District, which is due east of his own 15th CD and anchored in the city of Brownsville. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) is not seeking re-election to a sixth term, and he reportedly is favorable toward Gonzalez coming into his district.

The 34th remains solidly Democratic under the Senate introduced congressional map, but the 15th, already trending more Republican than in past elections, would actually have favored former President Trump by three percentage points under the proposed boundaries. Thus, Republicans would have a strong chance of winning here in an open seat race.

The 2020 GOP nominee, Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez, who held Rep. Gonzalez to a 50-48 percent re-election victory while spending barely over $400,000, has announced she is running again and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has already endorsed her for the 2022 race.

Gonzalez is not the only one working on his next political move. Wesley Hunt (R), who lost 51-47 percent to Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston) in 2020, said months ago that he would run for the House again, but was mum on exactly where he would land in hopes that one of the new seats would fall into his area. Under this proposed map, the new 38th District does encompass part of the current Fletcher district, and it is highly favorable to an eventual Republican nominee.

For her part, Rep. Fletcher gets a much stronger Democratic district in southern Harris County and now into Ft. Bend County, which is one of the fastest growing regions in the state. Reports also suggest that Hunt has over $1 million in his campaign account at the reporting period ending Sept. 30 despite not previously declaring where he would run. He announced last week that he has chosen District 38 if this new map becomes law.

Late last week, Republican businessman and retired Air Force officer Steve Fowler announced his congressional candidacy in the 28th District, Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-Laredo) seat that begins in San Antonio and spans to the Mexican border. Earlier this year, Jessica Cisneros, who held Cuellar to a 52-48 percent Democratic primary win in 2020, announced she is returning for a re-match.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) will also have a decision to make. The new 37th District is wholly contained within Travis County and safely Democratic. He could easily run in this seat, thus leaving his 35th CD that is co-anchored in Austin and San Antonio for a Hispanic Democrat to likely win.

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Texas GOP Mayoral Victories

Along the US-Mexican border

By Jim Ellis

June 8, 2021 — On Saturday, Republican candidates picked up three victories in a trio of Texas mayoral runoffs, the most surprising of which came in the Mexican border city of McAllen where the Hispanic population is close to 85 percent.

McAllen City Commissioner (Council) Javier Villalobos, a former Hidalgo County Republican Party chairman, won the mayoral runoff election with a 51-49 percent victory. This on the heels of the Texas-Mexico border region voting much more Republican in 2020 than in previous electoral history. From the congressional district that houses McAllen, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) won his November re-election contest with only a 50.5 – 47.6 percent victory margin.

In Ft. Worth, an election that broke more definitively along partisan lines, though all of the mayoral elections in the state are nonpartisan in that the candidate’s political party affiliation does not appear on the ballot, Republican Mattie Parker defeated Tarrant County Democratic Party chair Deborah Peoples. The spread was 54-46 percent in a contest where turnout more than doubled the aggregate mayoral vote of four years ago. Voter participation was up in all three of the Texas city runoff elections, but none like the huge increase in Ft. Worth.

The least partisan of the races occurred in Arlington, where former police officer and local businessman Jim Ross defeated Arlington City Councilman Michael Glaspie, also with a 54-46 percent margin. In this election, law enforcement seemed to dominate the campaign as five different police and fire associations rallied to support Ross.

As mentioned above, South Texas voting ventured more toward the Republicans in November even though Democrats still proved victorious in the region. Biden’s margin over then-President Trump dropped as low as 50-48 percent in Rep. Gonzalez’s 15th District, and under 52 percent in three of the four CDs that touch the Texas-Mexico border.

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The House Opens – Part I

By Jim Ellis

May 7, 2021 — With the number of House open and vacant seats continuing to grow, today we open a two-part series to update the status of each and begin to project where the most competitive incumbent-less districts might lie in 2022.

Adding the most recent retirement announcements or declarations for a different office, we see 16 districts that will introduce freshman members from their next election, eight from the Democratic side and an equal number of Republican seats. Of the 16, five are vacant and in special election cycles.

Today, we look at the Democratic open seats and tomorrow, the Republicans. The eight Democratic seats come from six states with another potential candidacy announcement coming shortly, at least based upon reading the Florida political tea leaves in association with this week’s gubernatorial race declaration from Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL).

Three of the five vacancies are on the Democratic side and will be filled in elections conducted from June 1 through Jan. 11 of next year. The other five Democratic openings result from retirement decisions (3) and members seeking a different office (2) with an additional open seat announcement apparently coming imminently in Florida as all indications suggest that Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) will soon announce her gubernatorial bid.


AZ-2 – Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick – retirement

Rep. Kirkpatrick had represented the 1st District for three non-consecutive terms beginning in 2009. She then ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2016 and returned in 2018 with a victory in the 2nd District. She was re-elected in 2020 with 55 percent of the vote. In March, Kirkpatrick announced that she would retire at the conclusion of the current Congress.

The reapportionment picture drastically changes the 2nd District political outlook. Originally, Arizona was projected to gain a seat, but did not once the official population figures were announced. Therefore, the Tucson anchored CD-2, expected to significantly change, is likely to remain closer to its current configuration.

If so, then the re-draw process will likely keep the 2nd in the Democratic column. The two leading early contenders to replace Rep. Kirkpatrick are state representative and surgeon Randy Friese (D-Tucson) and state Sen. Kirsten Engel (D-Tucson).

• President Biden carried the 2nd with a 54-44 percent margin.


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What Rep. Kevin Brady ‘s
Retirement From TX-8 Means

Texas’ 8th Congressional District – more change likely coming …

By Jim Ellis

April 16, 2021 — Veteran Texas Congressman Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands), who is the Republican’s ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee, announced Wednesday that his current 13th term will be his last as a member of the House. Brady, first elected in 1996 after serving three terms in the Texas House of Representatives, will retire at the end of the 117th Congress with 26 years of seniority.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands)

Rep. Brady is now the fifth Republican to announce he won’t seek re-election, but three of those are running for different offices. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) is a declared US Senate candidate; Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) is running for Georgia Secretary of State; and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) has announced he plans to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) next year. Joining Brady in retiring from Congress is New York Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning). The 6th District of Texas, due to Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-Arlington) death, is in special election and will likely be filled sometime in late June or early July.

Two Democrats are retiring, another Texan, Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) and Arizona’s Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson). Four Democratic seats are currently in special election cycles, however: LA-2 (Rep. Cedric Richmond), NM-1 (Rep. Deb Haaland), OH-11 (Rep. Marcia Fudge), and FL-20 (Rep. Alcee Hastings). The first three Democratic vacancies are due to Biden Administration appointments of the listed members, while Rep. Hastings passed away last week.

Brady first came to office in an unusual manner. After qualifying for the original runoff election from the early March 1996 Texas primary, he defeated his Republican opponent with 53 percent of the vote in the secondary election a month later.

Post nomination, a federal court ruled that several Lone Star State districts were illegal for racial representation reasons and an immediate re-draw was ordered. Though Brady’s 8th District was not one of the seats deemed illegal, re-drawing an adjacent district labeled as such affected his seat. Therefore, he was again forced to run in another primary and runoff election, the latter against the same opponent he defeated earlier in the year. In all, Brady had to run in four elections all in the same year to capture the 8th District for the first time.

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2022: Three More House Retirements

By Jim Ellis

March 24, 2021 — A trio of veteran House members announced Monday that they won’t seek re-election in 2022. Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Filemon Vela (D-TX) will retire, while Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) declared his candidacy for the Georgia Secretary of State position.


Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY)

Tom Reed was first elected in 2010 and, at the time of his initial campaign, took a six-term limit pledge. The next election brings him to the end of his originally promised congressional service calendar. Earlier in the year, however, Rep. Reed had been making overtures about running for governor, especially when incumbent Andrew Cuomo (D) began running into political trouble. Rep. Reed even went so far as to begin hiring statewide campaign staff.

Late last week, however, accusations of him being drunk in public and becoming inappropriate with a female lobbyist several years ago began to surface. Originally, Rep. Reed said such accusations were false, but yesterday accompanied his retirement message with an apology for his past behavior.

The Reed retirement decision is likely good news for neighboring GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford). You will remember that she defeated former Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) by just 109 votes in the November election, a race that consumed more than three months to determine the final outcome. She originally won the 22nd District in 2016, but lost to Brindisi, then a state assemblyman, in 2018.

New York looks to lose at least one seat in reapportionment, and the Reed and Tenney districts rank 27th and 26th in population, respectively, among the 27 New York congressional seats. With Reed departing, the upstate map becomes much easier to draw in that his seat can be collapsed into hers, presenting Tenney with a larger but very likely more Republican district from which she could seek re-election.

Under this scenario, should it occur as described, her most serious competition would very likely come in the Republican primary instead of the general election. Securing local party support in her new counties would become Tenney’s first step in securing the GOP nomination under such a redistricting projection.


Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX)

Rep. Vela’s retirement announcement after what will be five complete terms in the House comes as a surprise. He did, however, experience his tightest election of his five victories in November, but still won with a 55-42 percent majority. President Biden, however, only carried the 34th District, anchored in Brownsville on the Texas-Mexico border, with a 52-48 percent margin, down from 59-38 percent victory spread Hillary Clinton recorded in 2016.

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