'It will be Hispanics who keep Texas red,' says Ivan Andarza, spokesman for Hispanic Republicans of Texas
By Andrew Mark Miller | Fox News
Published February 23, 2022 7:47am EST
Early voting analysis in two primarily Hispanic counties along the Texas border suggests Republicans are outpacing Democrats in voter enthusiasm and perhaps turnout, and Hispanic politicians in the state tell Fox News that its indicative of a larger trend.
A report from the political consulting company Ryan Data & Research shows that Republicans are 76% of the way to matching 2018 turnout in Cameron County, Texas along the southern border with Mexico with eight days remaining until Election Day. In Hidalgo County, which also sits on the border with Mexico, turnout is 65% of the way to matching 2018.
On the Democrat side, the party is only 59% of the way to matching 2018 turnout in Cameron County and 47% of the way in Hidalgo County.
Hispanic political candidates and operatives in Texas told Fox News that the early data points to a larger trend of Hispanic voters, especially in the Rio Grande Valley, supporting Republican candidates in areas that have been predominantly controlled by Democrats for decades.
"I’ve spent a lot of time in Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy and all the counties in the valley, and there has just been a very different vibe with Republican voters," Republican candidate for Texas Land Commissioner Ben Armenta told Fox News. "I meet with folks, and a high percentage of them are new, and they’re just engaged differently than they’ve been in the past."
Armenta added that there is a "new" and "different energy" with Republican voters in the predominantly Hispanic Rio Grande Valley, where he believes that the Republican message of family values, border security and cracking down on crime is resonating with voters.
"It’s about the issues that are impacting their home," Armenta said. "The issues that are impacting their pocket book, their schools, the crime in their neighborhoods. When as a Republican candidate, I’m talking to them and I just ask them even in the last 13 months of the Biden administration, ‘Are things better for you?’ The answer is, ‘No.’"
Armenta explained that Hispanic voters in South Texas are very much concerned about illegal immigration in their neighborhoods and support Republican efforts to secure the southern border.
"Border security is all about crime," Armenta said. "These voters, the Latino voters, are legal citizens.
"These are people who, whether they are first generation or fifth or sixth generation Texans, came to the U.S. legally. I am a third generation Mexican-American. My grandparents came here legally, and there is a right way to go about doing this. This is an anti-crime stance that the homeowners, the property owners — they don't want illegal immigrants and aliens and criminals crossing their property. They don't want the destruction. They're not being reimbursed by the federal government when their crops are destroyed, their fields are trampled."
Ivan Andarza, spokesman for Hispanic Republicans of Texas, agreed with Armenta and told Fox News that border security is an issue that has caused Hispanic voters to vote Republican.
"Drugs are coming across the border, cartels are using migrants to flood the border in a way where everybody is bogged down with them and everyone else runs across it," Andarza said. "We’re living that down there, so when we hear that everything is fine on the border and we don’t need a border wall anymore, it’s just at odds with what people are living down there. That has kind of turbocharged the movement that was already happening with the way that Democrats have changed over the past few years."
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, who is running in the Republican primary for Texas attorney general in next week’s election, explained to Fox News that Hispanic values are more in line with conservatism than the liberal orthodoxy of the Democratic Party.
"Hispanic values are Republican values, and I think that message is resonating with Hispanics across the country," Guzman, who was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court by Republican Gov. Rick Perry and won the seat outright in subsequent elections, told Fox.
"I'm Hispanic," Guzman continued. "My parents had a third grade education. They put seven kids through college. They came here legally and upheld the rule of law. Hispanics don't want an AOC socialist woke agenda. They want an agenda that provides opportunity. An agenda where they can see their children grow up and go from a factory like me to the Texas Supreme Court. It's just common sense. Hispanics want a country where freedom reigns and more opportunity is available no matter where you come from. AOC and the woke liberals don't offer that. They offer a socialist agenda that wants to keep people in their place. We don't want that as Hispanics; we reject it."
Democrats in Texas have "ignored" Hispanic voters and "taken the Hispanic community for granted," Republican judicial candidate for the Texas Thirteenth District Court of Appeals Aaron Peña told Fox News.
"We’re law-abiding; we worry about our safety; we worry about our economy; we love our country," Peña said about Hispanic voters in South Texas. "And everything the current Democratic Party stands for is contrary to that."
Peña told Fox News that border security is an important issue to Hispanic voters and says members of his community take issue with the fact that Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have attacked the Border Patrol, which employs a workforce that is more than 50% Hispanic.
"The attack on the Border Patrol is significant and very personal to me because I have relatives and friends at the Border Patrol," Peña said. "Most of them are Hispanic, you know, or people from the border. They're our friends or our neighbors, our cousins or relatives, and the attacks on them hit us personally. We take it personal because they're simply trying to do their job. And they’re not getting any support from the current administration."
Peña, who publicly left the Democratic Party to become a Republican in 2010, added that the Hispanic community in South Texas is a "law and order" community that is being negatively affected by the unchecked wave of illegal immigrants across the border.
"We feel it directly," Peña said. "Our schools are being overcrowded because we're required to take all persons, not necessarily all citizens. Our hospitals are overburdened. Our health care is in jeopardy because many of the people who come are carrying illnesses, and they're released into the community."
Both Andarza and Peña explained that Democratic Party’s support of abortion has also alienated Hispanic voters who are largely Catholic and pro-life.
"Most of our people are Catholic, and they are pious Catholics," Peña said. "They follow their traditions, and one of those traditions is respecting life, and the Democratic Party no longer tolerates a pro-life Democrat."
Republicans have continued to make serious inroads with Hispanic voters, recent polls have shown, and that's especially true in Texas, where the GOP has ramped up its investments in Hispanic communities.
Macarena Martinez, the Republican National Committee's Texas communications director, told Fox News Digital earlier this month that the RNC’s investment in the Lone Star State is the largest in the organization’s history.
Former President Donald Trump increased his support from Hispanic voters in 2020 compared to 2016 and made significant inroads with Hispanic voters in Texas, including a victory over Biden in the border county of Zapata, where a Republican had not won a presidential election since Reconstruction.
"We’re going to continue to see the growth of Hispanics in the Republican Party," Andarza told Fox News. "It will be Hispanics who keep Texas red."
Fox News’ Houston Keene contributed to this report