It's close: Cuellar declares victory, Cisneros refuses to concede in Tx 28 primary run-off

It's close: Cuellar declares victory, Cisneros refuses to concede in Tx 28 primary run-off
Harry Cabluck

The primary run-off race between Rep. Henry Cuellar and his challenger Jessica Cisneros is a proxy war between House Establishment Democrats and progressive Democrats. It’s Nancy Pelosi versus The Squad and Bernie. Cuellar declared victory late Tuesday night while Cisneros refused to concede. The margin of votes, as of this writing, is 177 with Cuellar ahead.

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With 95% of the vote in, Cuellar has 22,694 votes for 50.20% and Cisneros has 22,517 votes for 49.80%. I checked that information today at 11:35 a.m. Central Time. It’s very close. Look for a recount if Cuellar’s lead holds, which I think it will.

Texas District 28 is in the Rio Grande Valley. It’s a longtime deep blue area of Texas. Cuellar, from Laredo. has represented the District in the House since 2005. The district goes from the Rio Grande to San Antonio suburbs. Cuellar is considered one of the most conservative and bipartisan members of the Democrat caucus. He is the last pro-life Democrat in the House of Representatives. He strongly supports enforcing immigration laws on the southern border. With all that said, it is a Democrat district. If Texas must have a Democrat representing that district in Washington, it’s better for conservatives if Cuellar is in office, not Jessica Cisneros.

Cuellar declared victory just before midnight though the race is considered too close to call.

Jessica Cisneros did not concede. In her announcement, she noted it was a good 29th birthday for her.

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This race was always going to be close. Cisneros, an immigration attorney, ran against Cuellar in 2022. This race was a re-do for her. Look for her to call for a recount, which she is entitled to do if the vote difference is less than 10 percent of the leading candidate’s vote total.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is angry at Democrat leadership for supporting Cuellar. Pelosi recorded a robocall that ran in he district this week. Earlier this month, Rep. James Clyburn campaigned for Cuellar.

Bernie Sanders campaigned for Cisneros during the early voting period last week.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, campaigned in San Antonio for Cisneros amid early voting last week. The two-time presidential candidate said Cisneros was “standing with the working class,” touting her support for universal health care and more. He slammed Cuellar for being “one of the most conservative members of the Congress” at a time when “the women of this country are under severe attack.”

“That is something that must be defeated,” Sanders said.

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After the leaked opinion from the Supreme Court on overturning Roe v Wade emerged, this race went to the next level. Cisneros is supported by EMILY’s List, a PAC that specifically supports pro-abortion women candidates.

In January, Cuellar’s campaign headquarters in Laredo and his home were raided by the FBI. At the time I said it looked fishy with the timing and the hotly contested primary race. Cuellar has since said he is not a target in the FBI’s investigation.

Adding to all the drama, there was some #MeToo kind of allegations going around. Cuellar denies any wrongdoing.

Cuellar also faced allegations that he worked to discredit a former staffer in a sex discrimination lawsuit he settled last year. The former staffer was fired in 2018 and sued Cuellar in 2019, alleging the longtime Laredo Democrat denied her request for parental leave and fired her for poor performance when she was in her third trimester. Cuellar said in a statement that he has “consistently and adamantly denied any wrongdoing” in the case.

The fiercely contested runoff took a nasty turn in the final stretch, with Cuellar’s supporters running billboards and sending out fake newspapers to voters seeking to brand Cisneros as a “homewrecker.” Cuellar worked to distance himself from the tactics, saying he didn’t condone them.

With the horrendous mass shooting in Uvalde in the news, Cuellar is also under attack by progressives for his A rating by the N.R.A.

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As I said above, if this district has to be represented by a Democrat, it’s better to have Cuellar than Cisneros any day of the week. The Republican Party in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley is making real inroads, thanks in no small part to Trump and his time in the White House. Let’s hope the trend continues and in the future, the deep blue districts are competitive for Republicans.

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Jazz Shaw 9:21 AM on September 21, 2023
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