Yes, a Republican just won in the Democratic stronghold of South Texas. Here's a reality check.

Mayra Flores and her backers spent more than $1 million on TV ads to win a term that expires in January.

click to enlarge GOP candidate Mayra Flores speaks to a TV reporter  on Tuesday. - FACEBOOK / MAYRA FLORES FOR CONGRESS
Facebook / Mayra Flores For Congress
GOP candidate Mayra Flores speaks to a TV reporter on Tuesday.
National media reports hailed a narrow win by GOP candidate Mayra Flores in Tuesday's special election for an open South Texas congressional seat as a sign the Republicans are winning ground in the blue-leaning region.

In the closely watched race, Flores — a Mexico-born respiratory therapist — bested top-finishing Democrat Dan Sanchez by winning just 50.98% of the vote. Sanchez ended with 43.33% and another Democrat, Rene Coronado, landed 4.14%.

The special election was held to complete the term of former U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, who resigned this spring to become a lobbyist.

After President Joe Biden underperformed in South Texas in 2020, Republicans targeted the longtime Democratic stronghold and have spent freely in a bid to win over Latino voters.

To be sure, Flores' victory is painful for the Dems, who declined to spend on the race so they could conserve resources for November. That said, it wasn't cheap for the GOP. Flores and her backers spent more than $1 million on TV ads for their narrow win, according to the Texas Tribune.

What's more, Flores' triumph only buys Republicans control of the seat until January, when her term expires. And when she runs again in November, she'll be doing so in a district redrawn to be much more favorable for Democrats.

As reconfigured, Texas' 34th Congressional District would have gone to Biden by 16 points in 2020 versus the 4-point victory he pulled as the district is currently drawn, according to the Cook Political Report.

Although Flores will have the advantage of a few months of incumbency, Cook noted that the November race will still lean Democrat.

Translation: the victory is likely to be a short-lived anomaly. Unless, of course, national Democrats again choose to play it cheap. After all, the party has racked up its share of election blunders.

“Democrats need to hear the sirens [in South Texas],” Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson told the Current in February. “They need to know that something they’re doing in South Texas isn’t working as well as it should.”

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