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Ruben Navarrette commentary: The GOP has an exciting new superpower: Latina Republicans

Summary: The odds are long that all four Latina Republicans will make it to Capitol Hill. But they just might. And when they get there, they will already have a monicker waiting for them. The Democrats have The Squad. Meet "The Quad."

Texans vote to fill vacant 34th congressional District seat
Republican Mayra Flores, who won the election last week for the vacant 34th congressional district seat, is greeted by a woman during her watch party in San Benito, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2022.
REUTERS/Veronica G. Cardenas
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SAN DIEGO — For the most part, Mayra Flores doesn't have Democrats' support. But the Republican sure has their number.

Ruben Navarrete column logo
Ruben Navarrete column logo
Kit Grode / Tribune graphic
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The newly sworn-in Latina Congresswoman — who represents the 34th Congressional District, which is overwhelmingly Democratic and 84% Latino — knows liberals better than they know themselves. She ought to. She grew up surrounded by them in the Democratic stronghold of South Texas.

Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, Flores came to the United States legally with her parents when she was 6 years old. She worked alongside her family members at one of those dirty and difficult jobs that U.S.-born citizens won't do at any price: field work. She went to college, married a Border Patrol agent, became a respiratory care practitioner who helped elderly patients survive the coronavirus and led Hispanic Outreach for the Hidalgo County Republican Party.

Within hours of her historic victory on June 14, Flores was being dismissed by liberals on Twitter and cable news.

Consider the condescending remarks from Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Sean Patrick Maloney, who appears to believe that Flores' time in Congress will so short that she shouldn't bother decorating her office. Maloney is banking on the fact that the district that Flores currently represents is set to disappear because of redistricting. In the fall, the Congresswoman will have to run against Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez in a neighboring district that is seen as more friendly to Democrats. Flores isn't worried. Maloney thinks she should be.

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"Look, I think the Republicans spent millions of dollars to win a seat that's going away," Maloney told Politico. "We're going to win this seat when it matters. You never like to lose, and I understand why people were upset by that. I think Republicans burned a lot of money, and we're going to end up with that seat."

Having spent the past three decades living on this side of the border, the 36-year-old Flores is — by now — 100% American. You can tell by how she handles critics and doubters. That is, with a strong dose of Texas swagger.

Mexicans are known for being humble, respectful, passive and deferential. Americans, not so much. We have a very different reputation - for being confident, defiant, combative and at times even ornery.

In response to the sniping by Democrats, Flores tweeted this about the party of John F. Kennedy: "I'm their worst nightmare. They claim to be for immigrants. I'm an immigrant. They claim to be for women. I'm a woman. They claim to be for the people of color. I'm someone of color. Yet, I don't feel the love.' I am Democrats worst nightmare!!"

Direct hit. Flores is calling out Democrats as phonies who don't practice what they preach. As I've noted for many years, liberal Democrats in particular want Latinos to have every right — except the right to think for ourselves. When that happens, we might actually offer an opinion that disagrees with one of theirs. And they can't have that. After all, to many of these people, we're inferior. They'd be more comfortable with us serving up chips and salsa than policy proposals.

Well, Democrats, you might want to get used to being uncomfortable. Flores could be just the beginning of a wave of conservative Republican Latinas heading to Washington.

Monica De La Cruz, who owns three small businesses, is the GOP nominee in the 15th Congressional District. Cassy Garcia, former Deputy State Director for Sen. Ted Cruz, won the Republican nomination in the 28th Congressional District. And just last week, in Virginia, Yesli Vega — a former police officer who serves on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors — beat out a crowded field of Republicans to win the GOP nomination in the 7th Congressional District.

They're all talking about securing the U.S.-Mexico border, stopping the flow of illegal drugs, ending inflation and improving the economy. Bread and butter issues. Not pie in the sky stabs at social engineering.

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Check out that Republican Party. After decades of sending in White men to compete for the chance to represent mostly Latino districts only to come up empty, look who got smart all of a sudden.

The odds are long that all four Latina Republicans will make it to Capitol Hill. But they just might. And when they get there, they will already have a monicker waiting for them. The Democrats have The Squad. Meet "The Quad."

Beware, Democrats. Latina Republicans might just Make Politics Fun Again.

Ruben Navarrette can be reached at ruben@wctrib.com.
© 2022, The Washington Post Writers Group

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