For most the race for congress and the opportunity to become the first representative for newly formed District 34 is over.However, for first time candidates Filemon Vela and Denise Saenz-Blanchard, the toughest part of the race is still ahead.
Vela was the clear front runner in the primaries, leading by about 12,400 votes, but failed to break the 50 percent mark in the total votes obtained throughout the 11-county district. Saenz-Blanchard had just under 6,000 total votes.
Vela and Saenz-Blanchard start on a clean slate in the July 31 runoff. Saenz-Blanchard said she's hoping to rally the Hispanic vote to win the seat.
"District 34 was designated as a Hispanic Democratic seat, Saenz-Blanchard said. And by being in the runoff in District 34, I will tell you one thing, we will fight very hard to keep this seat a Democratic Hispanic seat."
While Saenz-Blanchard met with supporters in Brownsville Tuesday, Vela spent the day in the northern part of the district with supporters there.
Vela is hoping to gain as much momentum for the runoff as he did for the primaries, where he got 18,223 votes, or about 40 percent of the vote.
"What will be very beneficial, is to have someone in District 34 that will be able to cooperate well with the other two congressional representatives, and all the public officials at the state, county, city and school board levels," Vela said.
Both Democratic candidates said the District 34 representative will have to hit the ground running, tackling various issues that need to be addressed, such as job creation, Social Security and education.Saenz-Blanchard said, "projects such as Space X, deepening and widening (the) Port of Brownsville so that we can get bigger, larger ships coming into the Port of Brownsville to create more industry, (and) continue to push for that i-69," will help create jobs.
Vela said it TMs also important, "to preserve Medicare and Social Security benefits for our senior citizens so they get the benefits when they were promised they would get them, and for the amount they were promised."