As you probably remember, there was a Texas primary in March in which no candidate quite received 50% of the vote. That meant there had to be a run-off between Henry Cuellar, the eight-term congressman and the last pro-life Democrat in the House, and progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros who was endorsed by AOC and Bernie Sanders.
The run-off election last week was extremely close. At the end of the night, Cuellar was leading by 177 votes. He declared victory but Cisneros refused to concede the race.
Thank you to every single voter that came out to support our campaign for #TX28.
This election is still too close to call, and we are still waiting for every ballot and eligible vote to be counted.
This fight isn't over. It was a blessed 29th birthday ❤ pic.twitter.com/B7vX8HDstm
— Jessica Cisneros (@JCisnerosTX) May 25, 2022
And that’s where things have remained in the past week. There was a push to have people track their mail-in ballots and, if that ballot was rejected, to cure it. For instance if a signature was left off the ballot, the voter could correct that after the fact.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 25, 2022
Over the weekend, Cisneros went door-to-door.
We’re going door-to-door making sure every single vote is counted.
Track your mail-in ballot here: https://t.co/nT5P6o8pJn
If your mail-in ballot was rejected you have till Tuesday, May 31 go to cure your ballot.
Call our voter protection number: 956-413-7752. pic.twitter.com/8KmNTiHdhr
— Jessica Cisneros (@JCisnerosTX) May 28, 2022
Yesterday was the deadline for curing rejected ballots and Cisneros was still out there urging people to act before the deadline. But Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee signaled yesterday that it looked like Cuellar had won the run-off.
“It appears that Congressman Cuellar has won again, and we want him coming back to Congress, if in fact, he’s our nominee,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, told The Dallas Morning News during a briefing with regional reporters.
“It’s my expectation that when the dust settles, he will be the Democratic nominee. And we are going to hold that seat,” he said.
Normally, that would be a cue for Cisneros to exit stage left but so far I don’t see any sign she’s doing that. She hasn’t tweeted anything today and there doesn’t seem to be any word from her campaign. Maybe this establishment vs. Squad proxy battle in TX-28 will drag on a bit longer. Eventually, the winner will face Republican Cassy Garcia.
CONGRATS to Cassy Garcia on winning the runoff and becoming the Republican nominee for #TX28! We look forward to sending you to Congress this November! #RedWave2022 @CasandraLGarcia pic.twitter.com/Plnk7nOrn2
— Texas YRs (@TexasYRs) May 27, 2022
Meanwhile, Politico reports Democrats are pretty nervous about the outcome in the nearby 34th district. Rep. Filemon Vela, the Democratic incumbent, announced his resignation in March. That has created an opening for GOP candidate Mayra Flores in a special election to replace him. Earlier this month Politico reported an internal poll showed she was leading Democrat Dan Sanchez by five points. Today Politico has a follow-up story saying Flores is still looking good.
Republicans are well-positioned to flip former Rep. Filemon Vela’s (D-Texas) seat in a special election this summer, a victory that will further reduce Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s already miniscule majority and send a jolt of momentum through the GOP’s bid to turn the entire Rio Grande Valley red in the midterms…
“I’m very concerned,” said Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who currently represents an adjacent district. “The Republicans are all in and they have invested heavily in the district. And this election will certainly test the commitment of the DCCC to the Rio Grande Valley, to South Texas and to Latino districts in this country.”
“If we don’t keep the seat blue on June 14,” he added, “it will be a tragedy. It really will be a self-inflicted tragedy.”
The special election takes place on June 14, less than two weeks away so the flop sweat from Democrats is probably an indication they think she’s going to win. But as I explained before, the special election is only to finish Vela’s term, which means if Flores wins she’ll have to compete again this November using a slightly bluer map (the special election is using the 2020 map but the 2022 election will use the new map created by redistricting). Flores would also be running against a different Democratic candidate in that race. So a win this month isn’t the end of the story. And that’s really what the DCCC is emphasizing.
“A Democrat will represent TX-34 in January. If Republicans spend money on a seat that is out of their reach in November, great,” Monica Robinson, a DCCC spokesperson, said in a statement. “But Mayra Flores is a far-right, MAGA extremist who is completely out of touch with South Texans. The DCCC is focused on winning seats in November and we are committed to ensuring Hispanic voters get the representation they deserve when Vicente Gonzalez is elected to a full term this fall.”
That’s tough talk but as the story points out, Democrats have a lot of seats to defend in 2022 which means they can’t spend with abandon in any one place. What these races could come down to is a real test of polls which have suggested Hispanic voters are shifting toward the GOP. That’s the real nightmare Democrats are worried about.