MCALLEN, Texas – Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa says Michelle Vallejo can be competitive in the Congressional District 15 race, even though she is being heavily outspent by a her GOP rival.
More than a million dollars of so-called dark money has been poured into TV, radio and digital ads, as well as mailers by shadowy Super PACs in order to cast Vallejo in a negative light. The Republican candidate, Monica De La Cruz, is the beneficiary.
De La Cruz is not subject to anywhere near as many attack ads because the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chose not to support Vallejo in a meaningful way.
Hinojosa, a Rio Grande Valley native, visited Vallejo’s campaign office in McAllen recently for a news conference. In a video interview with the Rio Grande Guardian afterwards, Hinojosa said Vallejo can be competitive, even though she is not getting the support of the DCCC.
“She competes the way we always compete as Democrats. They (Republicans) always have more money than we do, by a lot. We knock on doors, we take it to the people. We have grassroots campaigns. We call them, we text them, we do everything possible to get people to understand the importance of this election and how it affects their families. And so that’s how she competes,” Hinojosa said.
“That’s one of the reasons why I’m down here to make sure that we’re all working towards ensuring that the people in Rio Grande Valley come out to vote in big numbers.”
CD 15 is currently a Democratic seat. However, after the Republican-controlled Legislature redrew the boundary lines to make the district more GOP friendly, the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, chose to run in neighboring Congressional District 34.
“The Republican Party doesn’t understand that what they’ve done here is they literally have awakened the people in the Rio Grande Valley,” Hinojosa said, referring to the impact of redistricting.
“There’s never been contested elections at the higher level in the general election for congressional races. Not really. For congressional races, for state senators or state rep. races, right? So there was never any incentive for our candidates or incumbents to spend a whole bunch of money to get the vote out,” Hinojosa said.
“Now they do. Now they’re out there. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is working out here, trying to get people to go out and vote, registering people and all the things that need to be done. And that’s how we compete. We don’t have the money. We’ve got the people.”
One Republican that does not like the influence of dark money in elections is former Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos. He is running for county judge again. On his Facebook page, Cascos wrote:
“We’ve all seen the negative ads being levied by both political parties. Many of these negative ads are being funded by organizations or PACs many of us have never heard of. It’s gotten to the point that we can’t determine the validity, accuracy or truthfulness of these ‘dark money’ ads. I as one do not believe dark money ads are good for determining the best or worst candidates.”
Cascos urged voters not to be swayed by negative ads but rather to do their own research.
“What to do? Nothing we can do other than do our due diligence and attempt to determine the truthfulness of these ads. Do the research…Google the candidate to read their platform and position on the issues important to you and our community,” Cascos said.
“We must all take responsibility for casting an informed vote…voting for the candidate that best represents our community, shares our values and supports what is best for us. On to November.”
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