Can the Grand Ol’ Party win Latino hearts and minds tonight? (Updated)

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Update (Midnight): It’s looking like it could be a runoff in the GOP primary between J.M. Lozano and Bill Wilson. With 60% of the precincts reporting in District 43 Lozano has 41.6% of the vote and Wilson has 44%.

 

Update (10:30 P.M.):

In HD 74, it’s not looking good for former Del Rio Mayor Dora Alcala who’s garnered just 26 percent of the votes against her opponent Thomas Kincaid, a rancher from Pecos County who has won the last two Republican primaries in that distirct. With 56 percent of the precincts reporting Alcala would need a miracle to recover. In the brand new Coastal Bend district 43, J.M. Lozano with 43.8 % of the votes has inched ahead of Bill Wilson who has 42.3 % of the votes. Just 43% of precincts have reported so far. Whoever wins the GOP primary will run against Democrat Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles who won her primary by a landslide. Gonzalez represented the Coastal Bend from 2005 to 2011 and was ousted by Hispanic Republican Jose Aliseda in the 2010 sweep that ousted many Coastal Bend dems. Aliseda opted not to run for the seat this time around.

Update (9:25 PM):

Party switcher J.M. Lozano is lagging behind Bill Wilson an architect from Portland in the GOP primary 49.3% to 37.4%. Votes are still trickling in however, with only 2% of the precincts counted so far. In HD 74, the far west district represented by Democrat Pete Gallego for an eon, Hispanic Republican Dora Alcala is trailing Thomas Kincaid in the GOP primary –Kincaid 80.7% to Alcala 19.3% with 28 percent of the precincts reporting.

 

Can the Grand ‘ol Party win Latino hearts and minds tonight? The Hispanic Republicans of Texas founded by Juan Hernandez, George P. Bush and George Antuna think so. Tonight they’re closely watching the race in House District 43 which includes San Patricio County and slices of Bee, Jim Wells and Kleberg counties to see whether their chosen candidate J.M Lozano can win the Republican primary against two Anglo opponents. Not long ago Lozano was a Democrat so that may hurt him in a Republican primary.

In House District 74, another HRT chosen candidate Dora Alcala will run against her Republican opponent Thomas Kincaid a Pecos County rancher and real estate appraiser. Alcala is running with considerable name recognition. She served three terms as mayor of Del Rio.

If the GOP does want to make inroads, they’ll have to overcome a daunting history. There have been several infamous races in which Hispanic GOP candidates complained they lost their primary elections against lesser-known Anglos because of Republican voters’ hostility toward candidates with Spanish surnames. The most recent example was former Texas Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo, who lost his bid for reelection in the 2010 GOP primary to a virtually unknown candidate named David Porter.

We’ll see tonight whether the GOP is really making inroads with Latinos or just spinning its wheels.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.