As the Republican Party aims to pick up more congressional seats across the country in the 2022 midterm elections, they may have problems in Texas' 23rd Congressional District. Francisco Lopez Jr., the Chairman of Val Verde County Republican Party, has filed intent to run as an Independent in the seat currently being held by Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzales.
Val Verde County is an ideal flip for Republicans in 2022, as the county is historically blue, but shows optimistic red leanings. Although they went for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and Beto O'Rourke in the 2018 Senatorial race, the Southwestern Texas county flipped red in 2020 when it voted in Rep. Gonzales.
Lopez's intent to run as an Independent could be in breach of the loyalty vote he took as a Republican. There could be grounds for the state and local Republican parties to remove him.
Per @TXsecofstate, here are the independent candidates who declared intent by the filing deadline: pic.twitter.com/uvSDKH1EzY
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) December 16, 2021
Although this border county is a shining example of Republican party popularity in Texas and among Hispanic voters, the candidacy of Francisco Lopez Jr. could complicate things for the Texas GOP to ensure a win in toss-up counties this election cycle.
Lopez has stirred up some controversy with his unorthodox comments, especially as the head of the Val Verde Republican Party. It is well-documented that the Chairman has previously bashed Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX), and both Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).
Traditionally, the opposing party of the sitting president always has the upper hand in midterm elections, with the minority party gaining over an average of 20 seats in the House and flipping at least one Senate seat in midterm election cycles since World War II.