The one thing that was not mentioned Friday night, over Corona beers or Domino's deep-dish pizza, was the efforts of Democrats in Washington to use a huge federal spending package to combat climate change.
Garza, 36 years old, is an immigration lawyer and is running for the House seat currently held by Filemon Vela, a retiring centrist Democrat. Talking about how you will meaningfully impact families and make communities healthier is what I believe matters more to people than many of these hot-button issues.
As part of the massive spending package that they are trying to force through Congress, Democrats in the United States are set to spend more on the environment than ever before. President Joe Biden has been touring the country urging alarm. He blames a warming planet and warns of a "code Red for humanity".
However, this focus could lead to political problems in areas that are energy rich. This includes South Texas where many Latino voters voted against Democrats last year's election. Regaining their support could be crucial to the party's chances of holding Congress in 2022.
Mayra Flores (35-year-old respiratory care specialist and organizer for Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign) said, "They're really making things easy on us." Flores, who is also running to Vela's seat, argues that Democrats are making Texans choose between energy sector jobs or curbing climate change.
According to the Pew Research Center, Trump won 38% last year's national Latino vote. This is 10 percentage points more than in 2016. His most impressive gains were in areas dominated by Hispanics that produce large quantities of oil and natural gas, such as the district Garza and Flores wish to represent.
It runs from Brownsville, which has plans to build liquified gas terminals for export. It then stretches more than 150 miles (240 km) north to sparsely populated parts of the hydraulic-fracturing-dependent Eagle Ford Shale.
Biden won Cameron County last year. This county includes Brownsville and is approximately 90% Hispanic. However, Trump's margin of victory increased by 20 percentage points in 2016 compared to 2016. Trump won the oil-and-gas-producing but still heavily Hispanic Jim Wells, Kleberg, and other northern counties.
"We are dependent on oil, gas and other energy sources. "That's why you saw those numbers," Flores said. Flores was born in Mexico and came to America at the age of 6. He also picked cotton every summer as a child. That's what people do. They work there.
Biden signed an executive order to stop new oil and gas leases on federal territory. However, it was blocked this summer by a court order.
However, the spending package currently under discussion in Congress aims to accelerate efforts towards combating climate change. It contains language about imposing high polluter fees and tax incentives for clean and electric vehicles, as well as a requirement that the nation's power grid be more dependent on renewable energy sources.
Rolando Lozano (62 years old) is a manager at an electric utility. He was among 200 people who recently filled Harlingen's community center west of Brownsville to see Flores, and other Latino Republican candidate candidates. He stated that Democrats have moved to the left so much it "looks anti-American."
Lozano stated that it was almost obvious in the faces of citizens. It can be called many other names, but it is fundamentally wrong.
Amanda Dave is a Brownsville public health community campaign manager. Her father was an oil and gas worker. She believes that protecting the environment is more important then appeasing energy interests.
They try to convey the message that 'We're bringing job'. We're bringing jobs. "We're bringing jobs." Dave, 35, said that they were bringing work. "I believe there is a growing consciousness about how to preserve what is already here. It is what makes it unique.
Gabriel Sanchez, the University of New Mexico's Center for Social Policy executive director, stated that climate change is a concern that Latinos are more concerned about than the general population, unless it is presented as job loss. "You've been in tension for a while" in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, he said.
Sanchez stated that Latinos are very conscious of climate change and support every progressive policy to reduce it. When you combine that with the possibility of job loss, you can see a more balanced attitude.
The adjacent House district could be affected by potential clashes between environmental changes and energy jobs. Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who founded the House Oil and Gas Caucus and urged the Biden Administration not to go too far left on environmental issues, was reelected with less than three percentage points in 2020. Fast-growing Texas is gaining two new congressional seats after the 2020 census, and the Republican-controlled Legislature has proposed redistricting maps making Gonzalez's territory more red.
This tension was already a factor in the decision to flip a House seat last year. New Mexico's Republican Yvette Sherrell defeated Democratic incumbent Xochitl Tores Small in a conservative district, which is approximately 55% Hispanic. It also includes part of the oil rich Permian Basin.
Biden pledged to "transition" America away from fossil fuels during last year's presidential debate. Torres Small replied that it was wrong to "demonize the oil industry" and decried the idea banning fracking. However, he still lost.
Flores claims that Biden's comment on the debate is still echoing across South Texas.
Flores said, "I see this rise within the Republican Party." Flores campaigns under the slogan "Make America Godly again." "People will go vote to get back their jobs."
Garza believes that climate change-fighting efforts could create high-paying jobs. He points out that the district has already built wind farms and could have more opportunities for solar power.
Garza stated, "These are natural resources we can easily use to create jobs." During the Trump administration's previous immigration crackdown, Garza would approach groups of immigrant workers on bridges between Mexico & the U.S. to present information on rights for asylum-seekers.
Garza spoke out about the environmental push by national Democrats, saying that Garza believes it is important to focus on the opportunities available. "Republicans love to preach doom."
Daniel Canales, 33 years old, is currently between jobs and attended the Harlingen conservatives’ event. He said that he and others don't object to new, more sustainable jobs but struggle with Democrats' ideology.
"The problem with the Democrats is that they seem too urban-oriented. Canales stated that they are too focused on the problems in their own neighborhoods. "Out here, this doesn't really mean much."