U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez's decision was made more likely by the final version of the congressional map that lawmakers recently sent to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk. Credit: Courtney Sacco/Caller-Times via Reuters

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U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, announced Tuesday he is running for reelection in the 34th Congressional District rather than his current 15th District.

Gonzalez had been considering the move due to redistricting, which made the 15th District more competitive for Republicans — and the 34th District safer for Democrats. U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, is retiring in the 34th District, and he has voiced support for Gonzalez’s switch.

Gonzalez’s decision was made more likely by the final version of the congressional map that Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Monday. The map redraws the 34th District to include Gonzalez’s residence.

“Texas Republicans stripped hundreds of thousands of constituents out of the 15th District of Texas, which I currently represent, and moved them along with my residence into the 34th District of Texas,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “I intend to continue my work in Congress as a strong voice delivering for working families across South Texas.”

Gonzalez was staring down a tough race in the 15th District, where he won reelection last year by a surprisingly close margin and his 2020 challenger, Monica De La Cruz, is running again with the support of national Republicans. She reiterated Monday she remains committed to the 15th District.

Under the map that Abbott signed Monday, the 15th District shifts from one that President Joe Biden won by 2 percentage points to one that Donald Trump carried by 3 points. The 34th District, meanwhile, goes from a district where Biden had a 4-point margin of victory to one that he swept by 16 points.

Gonzalez’s decision sets off a scramble to fill the Democratic primary in the 15th District. The primary has attracted at least two candidates in recent days: Ruben Ramiro, who previously ran for the seat in 2016, and Eliza Alvarado, an education advocate.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez likely will not have the primary to himself in the 34th District. Rochelle Garza, a former lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, has been running for months.

State Rep. Alex Dominguez, D-Brownsville, had been considered a potential candidate for the 34th District, but with Gonzalez switching races, Dominguez may run for something else. His team confirmed Friday that he was instead exploring a primary challenge to state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville.

The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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