The win is critical for Democrats who faced tougher than expected competition from Republicans in the traditionally Democratic and heavily Latino South Texas region.
With 85% of the votes in, Gonzalez garnered 52.7% and Flores received 44.2%, according to the NBC News Decision Desk.
Retirement and redistricting led to the race pitting the two sitting members of Congress against each other. Flores won the 34th District seat in a special election held after the incumbent, Filemon Vela, retired. Gonzalez jumped from the 15th District to run in the 34th after his district was redrawn to favor Republicans and his home was moved into the 34th District.
Gonzalez had been seen as a shoo-in because the 34th District was made more Democratic, but Flores waged an aggressive, well-financed campaign that kept the race close heading into the election. Gonzalez hammered on Flores for what he labeled “right-wing Trump votes” and promoted the $6 billion he’s brought to the area for infrastructure and other needs.
Gonzalez, a three-term incumbent, ran into some trouble when a blogger with whom he advertised referred to Flores as “Miss Frijoles.” The district is one of three in South Texas where the GOP sought to increase support from Hispanics.