(The Center Square) – A Democratic sheriff in a Texas border county says the Democratic Party’s values don’t represent his or those of his community’s anymore.

He’s speaking out as three Congressional races in historically Democratic districts in Texas border communities are considered bellwether races that could indicate a shift among Hispanic voters in the state. According to a recent poll, more Hispanic Texans say the Democratic Party doesn’t represent their values. According to another, Republican Congresswoman Mayra Flores from south Texas has a higher favorability rating among Hispanics than Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York does.

If Republicans Flores, Monica De La Cruz and Cassie Garcia defeat their Democratic opponents on Tuesday, they will be the first Republicans to win in their congressional districts in Texas history.

Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez, a life-long Democrat, who’s been combating cartel and gang activity stemming from the southern border, says the Democratic Party is out of touch with the struggles of his community and doesn’t represent his or their values.

Roughly 200 miles north of the Texas-Mexico border, Martinez and his deputies have been working with state law enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents to interdict human smuggling on a daily basis along Highway 281.

Martinez, a middle child of 10 children, says his family members are both Republicans and Democrats. But today, he says, “the Democratic Party doesn’t represent us.”

Martinez studied at Baylor University and joined the Texas Department of Public Safety. He worked for DPS for 29 years, including 18 years in narcotics and working undercover combating cartels.

He came out of retirement to run for office in 2016, won, and was sworn in in 2017. He ran for reelection and won again in 2020.

He was raised in “the barrio” where gangs sold heroin, he said. But his mother, a disciplinarian, helped keep him out of trouble. A star track athlete, Martinez ran on an award-winning team at Baylor where his coach gave him his nickname, Benny, and it stuck.

Running track, he said, taught him discipline, hard work, and how to lose – values he teaches students and athletes in his rural community. Because of his values and his commitment to his constituents, he says, he opposes the left’s movement to push transgender ideology onto children, for example.

A life-long runner, he says it’s not fair to allow biological boys who claim to be girls to play in girls’ sports, when there are real physical differences and strengths between male and female genders.

When it comes to protecting children from sex traffickers and pedophiles, he says he opposes the movement to normalize “minor-attracted persons” being taught in some schools. He also opposes what he calls the gender mutilation of minors, a position the Biden administration has been pushing, calling it “gender affirming care.”

He said, “I was taught castration is against the law. Isn’t that what they are doing? It’s so far-fetched.”

Instead, Martinez remains committed to encouraging children to learn about their history, instilling family values and creating positive experiences for the community. He started arranging the county’s only Fourth of July fireworks display when he learned there was none and the closest place they could celebrate was in Corpus Christi, two hours away.

Being a sheriff at age 66 is his way of giving back to the community “that got me where I am at now,” he said. “I’m here for them and that’s the way I’ve always been. Someone gave me an opportunity – it was the community. That’s what we do in Brooks County.”

Republican congressional candidate De La Cruz expressed a similar sentiment. She told Fox News Digital, “We’re not complicated people here in South Texas. We love America. We want security. We love our family and we love God.”

Of the Democratic Party, she said, “They have become woke, pushing down their cultural radicalism,” which she says “is an insult to us, quite frankly, and just one of the many reasons why the people who were once with the Democrat Party are now walking away.”

“The people in South Texas want a secure border. We believe in law and order, and that’s where the Democrat Party goes wrong,” she added. “They think that Hispanics want an open border and that just simply is not true. The Hispanics here, the people, South Texas want a safe and secure system.”

She argues her constituents believe “the Biden administration has caused the largest humanitarian crisis” in U.S. history, adding: “The likes of it are just unimaginable unless you live here in South Texas where these immigrants are exploited by the cartels.”

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