Why He Matters
Filemon Vela, a political novice, won the Democratic nomination for Texas’ newly created 34th Congressional District seat in a crowded field of eight Democratic hopefuls, and then went on to win the general election in November 2012.
The heavily Hispanic 34th district was thought to be a slam-dunk for the Democrats.
Vela’s wife is a Republican Court of Appeals judge, and activists in the Republican Party in and around Brownsville say there had been speculation in early 2012 that Vela would run as a Republican.
Vela’s chief primary opponent was Brownsville District Attorney Armando Villalobos, who led all Democratic congressional candidates in fundraising until just two weeks before the May 2012 contest, when he was indicted on federal fraud charges. Villalobos was the latest official caught in a sweeping corruption probe that had already brought down a former local judge and ex-state representative. He is accused of accepting more than $100,000 in bribes in exchange for favors, including bringing lesser charges against key defendants.
No Democratic candidate for the new congressional seat won an outright majority in Texas’ May 2012 primary, but Vela advanced to a runoff against Denise Saenz-Blanchard. He prevailed in the July runoff and cited his bipartisan spirit and “common sense” to work with leaders from both political parties.
Regarding immigration, Vela believes that more jobs in law enforcement need to be created to support federal, state and local efforts to protect South Texas from border violence. He supports a reasonable path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have paid their taxes and who have been contributing members of American society.
Vela favors ending American dependence on foreign oil and wants to fight for more access to explore the natural resources in South Texas.