MCALLEN, Texas – U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez have been featured in a Politico story about the Rio Grande Valley playing a key part in who controls the U.S. House after the next election.

Because former President Donald Trump did better than expected in three Valley congressional districts in the 2020 election, Republicans might put more effort into winning them next time, Politico reports.

It quotes Cuellar, D-Laredo, as saying the Democratic Party has taken the border region for granted and Hispanics for granted. 

It quotes Gonzalez, D-McAllen, as saying Tump was like a rock star. He doubted the Republicans could do as well in 2022 with Trump not on the ticket. 

Here is the start of the Politico story by writer Ally Mutnick:

House majority may hinge on the Rio Grande Valley

POLITICO: Former President Donald Trump’s surge among Latinos and rural voters along Texas’ southern border has given Republicans a surprise opening that could help decide control of the House of Representatives in 2022.

Democrats spent millions in 2020 in Texas’ suburbs, hoping to capitalize on anti-Trump fervor and grow their majority. But not only did that effort not yield any new Democrats in Congress, Democratic support also cratered in three traditionally deep-blue districts in the Rio Grande Valley. Now, House Republicans are eager to invest in the region for the first time in years.

In the danger zone are Reps. Vicente Gonzalez, Filemón Vela and Henry Cuellar, whose three adjoining districts stretch from the southern tip of the state up toward the San Antonio-Austin corridor. Hillary Clinton won them with margins between 17 and 22 points in 2016. ButJoe Biden carried them all by just a few points in 2020 — the largest rightward swings of any Texas congressional districts.

“I think it was a wake-up call for everybody,” Cuellar said in an interview. The nine-term incumbent fared the best of the Democratic trio, winning nearly 60 percent of the vote, while Vela scraped 55 percent — the worst showing of his five terms — and Gonzalez barely got a majority. But Cuellar said the tight presidential race in his region was a sign the national party was not heeding warnings.

“Don’t take border areas for granted. Don’t take Hispanics for granted,” he said. “It’s been done for so many years. The Democratic Party has not paid attention to the Hispanic population.”

“This wasn’t about the Republican party or any Republican candidate. This was about Donald Trump,” said Vicente Gonzalez, who beat an underfunded GOP challenger by about 3 points. 

“He was the rock star — I say in Spanish: lucha libre candidate, if you will — that Latinos love,” he added, invoking a Mexican style of wrestling that’s achieved a cult following.

Editor’s Note: Click here to read the full story in Politico.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news clips shows a woman holding a sign reading in English, ‘Latinos for Trump’ at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21, 2016. (File photo: Carlo Allegri /Reuters)

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