Republican Mayra Flores won Tuesday’s special election for the Texas District 34 congressional seat.

Based on unofficial results from the Texas Secretary of State, Flores received 50.98 percent of the vote, allowing her to avoid a runoff with Democratic candidate Dan Sanchez, who came in at 43.33 percent.

Democrat Dan Sanchez, candidate for 34th District South Texas congressional seat left vacant by U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela campaigns in Cameron Park on Election Day Tuesday. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Flores, a respiratory care practitioner and pro-Trump candidate from McAllen was endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott. Her campaign motto was “God, family and country.”

Across the district, 28,843 votes were cast out of 395,025 registered voters. Turnout for the special election was a dismal 7.30 percent.

In Cameron County, Flores received 47.55 percent of the vote compared to 46.42 percent for Sanchez. In Hidalgo County, Flores won 42.76 percent to Sanchez’s 52.07 percent.

Flores had outspent Sanchez’s campaign substantially. Sanchez, a Harlingen attorney, campaigned on a platform of fighting for lower costs, affordable healthcare, safe communities and secure retirement. He was endorsed by former District 34 Rep. Filemon Vela and current District 15 Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who will give up his District 15 seat to run against Flores for the District 34 seat in the November midterm election.

Tuesday’s special election, called by Abbott after Vela announced his early retirement, was held under the old District 34 lines, which Joe Biden won by four points in 2020. The midterm election will be held under redrawn District 34 lines, which Biden would have won by 16 points in 2020, which could mean a tougher battle for Flores in November when she goes up against Gonzalez, a three-term congressman from McAllen.

The state and national Republicans party, eager to flip South Texas from blue to red, see an opportunity in Flores. Republicans smelled blood in the water after Biden’s relatively poor showing in the formerly reliable Democratic stronghold of deep South Texas during the 2020 election. Now the GOP is gunning for two other South Texas districts as well in November, with Republican nominee Cassy Garcia running against Rep. Henry Cuellar for the District 28 congressional seat, and Republican Monica De La Cruz running for the District 15 seat that Gonzalez will leave open.

The two other candidates in Tuesday’s special election were Republican Juana “Janie” Cantu-Cabrera, a former nurse practitioner and South Padre Island resident; and Rene Coronado, a Democrat from Harlingen who listed his profession as “city civil service director.”

Both finished with totals well behind Flores and Sanchez.

Coronado’s platform included gun control, women’s rights and fighting inflation, while Cantu-Cabrera ran on immigration reform, healthcare and veterans issues among others.

“We feel good about the early numbers and enthusiasm we saw today,” Flores said Tuesday evening before it was clear who the victor would be.