The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump endorses Texas congressional candidate accused of abusive behavior toward her estranged husband’s daughter

Republican Monica De La Cruz, running in the Texas's 15th Congressional District, appears in Alamo, Tex., in July. (Eric Gay/AP)

Former president Donald Trump on Thursday offered his “Complete and Total Endorsement” of Monica De La Cruz, who is regarded as the Republican front-runner for a congressional seat in Texas despite accusations by her estranged husband that she was abusive towards his daughter.

“Monica De La Cruz will be an incredible Congresswoman for the people of Texas’ 15th Congressional District!” Trump said in a statement issued by his Save America PAC. “A successful small-business woman, Monica will fight hard to Grow our Economy, Secure our Border, Uphold the Rule of Law, Support our Military and Vets, and Defend the Second Amendment.”

In October, De La Cruz was accused in court documents by her estranged husband, Johnny Hernandez, of “cruel and aggressive conduct” toward his 14-year-old daughter, including verbal abuse and pinching the child to stop her from crying.

Top GOP congressional candidate in Texas accused of abusing teenage daughter of estranged husband

Last month, a Texas judge ruled that De La Cruz must continue living away from her family home until after the March 1 primary, following a contentious court hearing with Hernandez. The couple, who have been married since 2015 and have no biological children of their own, is in the midst of an acrimonious separation process.

In a statement to The Washington Post last year, De Le Cruz denied Hernandez’s allegations, saying, “I’m heartbroken that as we work through some mental health issues that involve a minor this deeply personal matter is now being exposed in the national press.”

Trump’s statement did not reference the allegations by Hernandez, who has been touted by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as a “young gun,” a designation given by the party to candidates who “have met a series of rigorous goals and surpassed program benchmarks to establish a clear path to victory.”

De La Cruz ran against Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Tex.) in the 2020 cycle, coming about three percentage points short of victory.

Gonzalez has since announced that he will compete in 2022 in a neighboring congressional district, placing De La Cruz in contention for a key pickup opportunity for her party.

Despite the support of national Republicans, De La Cruz faces a challenge in the GOP primary from Mauro Garza, an area business executive, and Ryan Krause, who ran against her in the primary in 2020.