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Election 2022: Monica De La Cruz beats out Michelle Vallejo for open seat in US House District 15

In a race of political first-timers, the Republican De La Cruz came out on top.
Credit: KENS 5

SAN ANTONIO — Republican Monica De La Cruz is projected to beat Democrat Michelle Vallejo in a race of political rookies for Congressional District 15, a seat Representative Vicente Gonzalez is leaving after campaigning for Congressional District 34. 

Vallejo and De La Cruz were vying to represent a redrawn congressional district that would have voted for former President Donald Trump by 2.8 percentage points in 2020. 

Results for Vallejo and De La Cruz continue tabulating below as Election Day ballots are counted. 

Who is Monica De La Cruz?

A conservative, anti-abortion Republican backed by Trump, De La Cruz came within less than three percentage points of unseating Gonzalez in 2020. This time around, she boasts a massive campaign pocketbook, reporting nearly $3 million in receipts by the end of June, in contrast to the approximately $422,000 raised in the entire 2020 cycle. 

De La Cruz is in many ways representative of the newer classes of Republican lawmakers — bombastically on-message and unflinching on issues such as border security, abortion and inflation. Her message taps into the Christian values of many multigenerational immigrant families in the region who worked hard to achieve the American dream.

De La Cruz ranks economic concerns and border security as top of her list of priorities. She also campaigns on a personal connection to her district, citing her challenges as a small business owner. It’s a message of perseverance and self-reliance that she says will resonate among the district’s immigrant families who came to the United States legally in pursuit of the American dream.

But De La Cruz can hardly be described as a moderate. She takes a firm stance against abortion, citing her Christian faith, and calls for finishing a border wall with Mexico.

Who is Michelle Vallejo?

Democrats are entering novel territory with Vallejo, who doesn’t match the moderate, middle-aged and male profile that has long defined South Texas congressional Democrats. She is an unapologetic progressive, vocal on protecting access to abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and espousing a community-centered message anchored in local ties from working at her family’s pulga. She also pushes for compassionate health care policy following her mother’s death from multiple sclerosis at 46.

on closer examination, Vallejo isn’t cut from the same cloth as other progressives who have uprooted national Democratic political conventions in the past several years, often to the consternation of the old guard. Though she is adamantly on board for addressing climate change, her message sticks to the job opportunities renewable energy could provide to areas dominated by the fossil fuel industry. 

She calls for greater funding to update ports of entry and support for border patrol agents facing low morale, acknowledging that many of her would-be constituents work in border security — an issue many national Democrats simply avoid discussing all together.

About the district

A thin sliver stretching from New Braunfels and areas east of San Antonio all the way down to Reynosa, including Brooks, Duval, Jim Hogg, Karnes and Live Oak counties. 

U.S. House District 15 is home to about 816,000 Texans with a median age of 31 and median household income of $48,000, according to Data USA. Hispanics constitute 82% of those residents, and in 2020 68% of those Texans were homeowners. 

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