Ruben Ramirez and Michelle Vallejo were the top two finishers in the Democratic Party primary election for Texas’ 15th Congressional District on March 1, 2022. Ramirez received 28.3% of the vote, followed by Vallejo with 20.1%. Because no candidate won 50% of the vote, Ramirez and Vallejo advanced to a runoff election on May 24.
Media attention focused on Eliza Alvarado, Ramirez, John Villarreal Rigney, and Vallejo, and these candidates also led in fundraising. Incumbent Vicente Gonzalez (D) ran to replace retiring District 34 incumbent Filemon Vela (D) after the Texas State Legislature redrew the 15th district to include more of western Hidalgo County during the 2020 redistricting cycle.
Ramirez is an Army veteran and former teacher who previously ran for election in the 15th District in 2012 and 2016. At the time of the election, he worked as an attorney. His top campaign priorities were healthcare, national security, and education. Ramirez said he would “continue to fight for my fellow veterans and district. Like all challenges I have faced, I will not back down and I promise to uphold our values and our Constitution” if elected.
Vallejo was a business owner and co-founder of two advocacy groups, New Leaders Council STX Frontera chapter and Hustle + Socialize. Her platform includes supporting Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, and an anti-war foreign policy. “I think traditionally these races are based on who has the most purchasing power when it comes to mailers, signs, and media, and I’m so grateful that for my campaign that’s not the only thing we’re focusing on, and I love that it started with the energy of having a ground game,” Vallejo said.
Alvarado was a director at South Texas educational service center Region One, and she previously worked for the U.S. Department of Labor and served as a congressional aide to U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D). She emphasized her experience in government, education, and healthcare and said partisanship was unimportant in representing the district. “I’m not there to represent Brooklyn or California, I’m there to represent District 15. And as such, I need to understand what District 15 needs regardless of whether they’re Republican or Democrat,” Alvarado said.
Rigney worked as an attorney and founded a construction company, Rigney Construction & Development. His top campaign issues included public safety, education, veterans’ education and healthcare, raising the minimum wage, and providing residency and citizenship opportunities for immigrants. Rigney said his campaign was focused on “you, your family, and all the people that work every day to provide for their families. Whether that means trying to put food on the table, dealing with rising gas prices, trying to pay for unaffordable medical care, or making sure your kids have quality afterschool care, I want to make sure you get the best representation.”
According to The Texas Tribune, Texas’ 15th Congressional District became more favorable to Republicans as a result of redistricting. Joe Biden (D) won the district by two percentage points in the 2020 presidential election. Donald Trump (R) would have won the new district by three percentage points. The Cook Political Report and other outlets rated the 15th district Solid Democratic in 2020 but rated it Lean Republican in 2022.
Julio Garza and Vanessa Tijerina also ran in the Democratic primary.