Blue Dog Democrat Filemon Vela (TX-34) did his party no favors when he announced he would leave Congress early on March 31 to join the lobbying firm Akin Gump. Now, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has used his authority to call an "emergency" June 14 special election that could not only shine a national spotlight on Democrats' disconnect with Hispanic voters, but give Republicans the power of incumbency in November's race for a full term.

Democrats didn't think this seat would be a problem this cycle. After Vela first announced his retirement last year, neighboring Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) of McAllen declared he would slide over into Vela's open Brownsville 34th CD. After all, GOP-led redistricting had made the McAllen 15th CD redder (Biden +2 to Trump +3) and made Vela's seat even bluer (Biden +4 to Biden +15) and more Hispanic (89 percent).

However, by law the June special for the 34th CD will take place under the old, more GOP-friendly lines (Biden +4). That gives Republican respiratory care practitioner Mayra Flores, who had already raised $174,000 to take

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