Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar Survives Second Progressive Primary Challenge

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LAREDO, Texas — Nearly a period aft voting ended, Rep. Henry Cuellar, the past House Democrat opposed to termination rights, officially clinched the Democratic information successful Texas’ 28th Congressional District.

For the 2nd predetermination cycle successful a row, Cuellar defeated progressive attorney Jessica Cisneros. The Associated Press called the contention connected Tuesday.

After an archetypal canvass of ballots cast, Cuellar led Cisneros by 281 votes, prompting him to state victory.

Cisneros exercised her close to request a recount astatine her campaign’s expense. The recount, which took spot connected Thursday, did not erase Cuellar’s lead. The Cisneros run plans to situation the validity of immoderate ballots, but this is not expected to alteration the outcome.

Cuellar “was idiosyncratic who nationalist groups targeted, but who consistently held that helium was a bully subordinate for that district,” said Joshua Blank, probe manager of the Texas Politics Project astatine the University of Texas, Austin. “At the extremity of the day, erstwhile you’ve tally successfully successful a territory aggregate times, you cognize wherever to crook voters out.”

The result is simply a triumph for House Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who stood by Cuellar contempt unit from Cisneros and different progressives to driblet him. Party leaders evidently believed Cuellar’s statement that a socially blimpish nominee is the champion stake against a Republican successful Texas’ 28th, which snakes from San Antonio to Laredo and points southeast on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Cuellar is acceptable to look the Republican nominee, Cassy Garcia, who is simply a erstwhile adjutant to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — and the resources of a nationalist Republican Party determined to consolidate erstwhile President Donald Trump’s gains successful South Texas. Hillary Clinton bested Trump successful Texas’ 28th by astir 20 percent points successful 2016, but Joe Biden defeated him determination by just 4 points successful 2020.

Redistricting successful 2021 made the spot somewhat much Democratic. Biden would person won successful the caller boundaries by 7 percent points ― giving the spot a Democratic tilt, but not 1 that is insurmountable for Republicans during a apt GOP question year.

“I would inquire anybody: Which is much important — to person a pro-life Democrat oregon to person an anti-abortion Republican?” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said astatine a rally successful enactment of Cuellar successful San Antonio successful aboriginal May. “Because travel November, that could precise good beryllium the prime successful this district.”

But Cuellar’s triumph is besides a large disappointment for progressives who were hoping to get escaped of him.

Cuellar, 66, is simply a longtime state of the fossil substance manufacture and the National Rifle Association. He inspires contempt connected the near — from clime activists to labour unions, pro-choice groups to pro-Palestine advocates — much than immoderate different Democrat successful the House of Representatives. Among different caller strikes against him, Cuellar was the lone Democrat to ballot against some the PRO Act bill to grow national rights and the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify a national close to termination access.

As a result, Cisneros’ 2nd situation against Cuellar, which came to a adjacent connected May 24 — her 29th day — became yet different costly proxy conflict betwixt involvement groups with antithetic visions for the Democratic Party. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s ace PAC spent over $1.8 million to reelect Cuellar, and Mainstream Democrats, a centrist ace PAC funded successful important portion by billionaire LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, kicked successful nearly $800,000 connected his behalf.

On the different side, ace PACs tied to the pro-choice radical EMILY’s List, the Working Families Party, and Justice Democrats, the left-wing radical that recruited Cisneros to run, spent much than $1.5 cardinal supporting Cisneros.

Cisneros got a jolt of momentum successful January erstwhile the FBI raided Cuellar’s location successful Laredo arsenic portion of a national probe reportedly associated with Azerbaijan’s power peddling successful Congress. She ended up trailing Cuellar by conscionable 2 percent points during the archetypal circular of superior voting connected March 1. The beingness of a 3rd Democrat — Tannya Benavides, a erstwhile pedagogue who aboriginal endorsed Cisneros — prevented Cuellar from obtaining an outright bulk connected the archetypal ballot, prompting the May 24 runoff election.

Jessica Cisneros took vantage  of voters' fears astir  a forthcoming Supreme Court determination  overturning termination  rights, arsenic  good   arsenic  frustrations successful  Laredo implicit    a pat  h2o  crisis.
Jessica Cisneros took vantage of voters' fears astir a forthcoming Supreme Court determination overturning termination rights, arsenic good arsenic frustrations successful Laredo implicit a pat h2o crisis.

Eric Gay/Associated Press

The governmental winds again broke Cisneros’ way erstwhile a draught of a Supreme Court determination to overturn Roe v. Wade leaked astatine the opening of May. The announcement accrued the salience of a cardinal country of opposition betwixt Cisneros, who is pro-choice, and Cuellar, who opposes legalizing termination but successful cases of rape, incest, and information to the wellness of the large person.

“With the House bulk connected the line, helium could precise overmuch beryllium the deciding ballot connected the aboriginal of our reproductive rights and we cannot spend to instrumentality that risk,” Cisneros declared.

Locally, Cisneros besides made the lawsuit that Cuellar’s seniority and the national funds helium helped unafraid done his spot connected the House Appropriations Committee had not adequately raised surviving standards successful Laredo. She singled retired the city’s tap h2o crisis arsenic a reflection of the shortcomings of a governmental people led by Cuellar.

Voters supporting Cisneros successful Laredo’s little prosperous South Side told HuffPost that they were backing her successful the hopes of bringing alteration to the region’s governmental civilization and economy.

“It’s conscionable hard for low-income people, particularly connected the South Side,” said Christian Aviles, a trucking institution dispatcher who opposes termination rights but inactive voted for Cisneros. “After each these years, I deliberation there’s not capable being done.”

But Cuellar’s allies worked to muddy the waters connected reproductive rights. Mainstream Democrats funded an advertisement claiming Cuellar would support abortion rights. Unknown entities sympathetic to Cuellar besides funded a billboard and a mock newspaper falsely claiming that Cisneros’ romanticist narration with her erstwhile schoolteacher had derailed the educator’s consequent marriage.

And successful a low-turnout runoff, Cuellar was capable to number connected the enactment of Laredo’s mostly older, socially blimpish voters disquieted that Cisneros was insufficiently supportive of borderline enforcement and capitalism.

Cuellar has “done a bully job,” said Alejandro Vela Jr., who runs an motor repair concern with his begetter connected Laredo’s South Side. “You spot the concern of amerciable aliens coming? You request idiosyncratic — you don’t privation to chopped borderline patrol.”

Vela voted for Barack Obama twice, past voted for Trump twice. He said helium would ballot for the Republican nominee if Cisneros won the primary.

HuffPost asked Vela whether helium thought Cisneros would beryllium excessively dovish connected borderline policy.

“Yes,” Vela replied earlier gesturing toward his father, who had accompanied him to vote. “She’s a socialist — everything my dada went to combat against successful Vietnam.”

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