McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — After a close runoff election and then a recount, the Democratic nominee for Texas’ hotly contested 15th Congressional District is getting some national support, which she believes will help keep the border seat blue in November, she told Border Report.
Michelle Vallejo, 30, a small businesswoman from Alton, Texas, says she welcomes the recent attention the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is giving her.
The DCCC last week announced it was putting Vallejo in their “Red to Blue” program to elevate and highlight her candidacy ahead of what political watchers say will undoubtedly be a tough fight against Republican nominee Monica De La Cruz.
“I am extremely proud to be added to DCCC’s ‘Red to Blue’ program. This means that we are a priority nationwide this election cycle and means we will be getting the support, resources and added training that I, myself as a candidate, and my team, as a grassroots effort, is going to need to hold onto this seat,” Vallejo told Border Report on Wednesday.
The program arms what the DCCC has determined are top-tier candidates with organizational and fundraising support as they campaign toward the general elections in November.
“It is support and funding as well as organizational support. This will allow us to have people on the ground throughout the entire district from Guadalupe to Hidalgo. We are seven counties wide so this is imperative for us in order to win and connect with our voters district-wide,” Vallejo said.
The sprawling border district, which spans from Hidalgo County on the Mexican border north toward San Antonio, was redrawn by the Republican-led Legislature last year. The new boundaries could mean a win for De La Cruz, who narrowly lost in her quest for the seat in 2020 against Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez. (Gonzalez’s home is now in the 34th Congressional District, where he is running in November and will try to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores, who last month took office temporarily until January.)
The 15th Congressional District has drawn many candidates vying for this coveted open seat. And Vallejo concedes that after winning the recount, she has only had two weeks to campaign towards November.
Vallejo late last month was declared the Democratic nominee by just 35 votes over challenger Army combat veteran Ruben Ramirez.
De La Cruz, however, won the primary election in May and has had months to rally support for the general election, as well as funds.
So far, De La Cruz has outraised Vallejo six to one, according to the Federal Election Commission’s latest data.
De La Cruz has received $2.3 million in total receipts to date. Vallejo has received $391,000, including $100,000 that she and her family have loaned the campaign, according to the FEC.
“Unfortunately our hands were tied with a runoff and a recount situation in our race so compared to our Republican opponent I’ve only been able to be fundraising for about two weeks,” Vallejo said. “Through this entire race we have been outspent, outspent three to one in the runoff and we’ve been able to be victorious because we are doing the work that is most important in an election and during a campaign, which is connecting with people and voters where they are at, and also staying true to who we are as a people of the district.”
The latest FEC data online is from May 4 and a new filing period just closed on June 30, so new campaign fund information is expected soon.
Vallejo would not disclose the amounts but said “we are going to be able to show a healthy amount of numbers and cash on hand but definitely want to remind everyone that the momentum was just picking up for us at the end.”
De La Cruz told Border Report on Wednesday that the DCCC is stepping in a bit too little too late to keep this seat Democratic.
“The DCCC adding TX-15 to their ‘Red to Blue’ program is another example of just how out of touch national Democrats are with South Texans. This District is currently blue and has been held by a Democrat for a century — but not for much longer. Because the reality is voters in TX-15 — just as I did — are waking up to the Democrats’ devastating policies which have caused one crisis after another, from record high inflation, to skyrocketing costs, food shortages and supply chain problems, to the humanitarian crisis right here at the border. Democrats have made it evident that they don’t care about us, our children, or our community — and that’s why our district will flip in November,” De La Cruz said.
But the new attention already appears to be garnering some support for Vallejo. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Sara Jacobs, a Democrat from San Diego, announced she was endorsing Vallejo. Others Democrats who have come out in Vallejo’s support include U.S. Reps. Veronica Escobar, Joaquin Castro and Sylvia Garcia, of Texas; Lucille Roybal-Allard, of California; Pramila Jayapal, of Washington; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts.
“Michelle Vallejo is the champion South Texans need in Congress. Born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, she understands the experiences of South Texas families who have worked hard for what they have because she’s lived it,” DCCC spokeswoman Monica Robinson said. “The DCCC is proud to back Michelle Vallejo, and we look forward to working alongside her from now until November.”