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Photo: Candace Valenzuela campaign site
Photo: Candace Valenzuela campaign site

Candace Valenzuela: The Black Latina on a mission to flip her Texas district blue

Candace Valenzuela’s bid for Texas’ 24th congressional district is heating up, with elections just two weeks away.

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Texas is shaping up to be one of the biggest battleground states in the country heading into November. With the rising influence of Latinx voters and a recent wave of progressive campaigns, candidates like Candace Valenzuela are ready to make big impacts.

Valenzuela overcame a lot on her journey to becoming a candidate. From poverty, fleeing domestic abuse as a child to homelessness, and to becoming the first person in her family to attend college. 

She is the only Latina challenger running in Texas for this cycle. If elected to Congress, Valenzuela could become the first Black Latina woman elected to Congress in US history, joining Ritchie Torres in his historic win to become the first Afro-Latino elected.

Valenzuela was the first congressional candidate in 2020 to be endorsed by the Tri-Caucus: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Congressional Asian American Pacific American Caucus. 

She has received endorsements from Julian Castro, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and more. 

Her platform runs on tackling income inequality, affordable healthcare, public education, criminal justice reform, affordable housing, gun violence, immigration, a woman’s right to choose and more.

“We need leaders who are willing to take bold action to transform our criminal justice system, put an end to health disparities, fight for affordable housing, allocate proper funding for our public schools, and that’s exactly what I will do in Congress,”  Valenzuela wrote in an op-ed for Essence

“Even in TX24 where Trump won by 6 points, a Black Latina like myself can win, and we can flip this seat blue.” Valenzuela tweeted.

Valenzuela is running alongside fellow Democratic candidate Kim Olson. In the first primary on March 3, Olson received 40.9% of the vote to Valenzuela’s 30.4%. 

The two run-off candidates are vying for a chance to run against Republican Beth Van Duyne for the ultimate goal: Flipping Republican Kenny Marchant’s congressional seat in November.

Marchant is due to retire this year. He has held the seat since 2005– or eight straight terms.

“Our congressman has been a politician since before I was homeless, sleeping in a kiddie pool outside a gas station. Kenny Merchant is listening to his donors, but back at home, we’re not being heard,” says Valenzuela in her campaign video.

Valenzuela’s runoff primary election is on July 14. As the nation has seen with recent progressive congressional bids, she could very well make history as her campaign gains momentum.

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