Challenger Jessica Cisneros wanted House Democratic leaders to rescind Cuellar endorsement; they refused
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
LAREDO, Texas (CFP) — Amid the newly charged struggle over legal abortion in the United States, the last pro-life Democrat left in the House, Texas U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, will be fighting for his political life Tuesday in a Democratic primary runoff.
Cuellar is seeking his ninth term in the House against Jessica Cisneros, who is running against him from the left in South Texas’s 28th District with the support of such luminaries of the Democratic left as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
But Cuellar has the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chamber’s senior Democratic leadership, who rebuffed Cisneros’s demands to rescind their endorsements after the leak of a draft Supreme Court decision indicating that the court is prepared to scuttle Roe vs. Wade, the 1972 decision that made abortion legal in the United States.
Cuellar has long opposed legal abortion and was the only Democrat to vote against a bill to codify Roe vs. Wade’s protections into federal law, which passed the House but failed in the Senate.
Cuellar has also been battling negative headlines after FBI agents searched his home and office in January as part of a probe related to Azerbaijan. He has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged.
In the first round of voting in March, Cuellar defeated Cisneros by 1,000 votes but failed to get the majority he needed to avoid a runoff due to a third candidate in the race.
The district stretches from the suburbs of San Antonio to the Rio Grande Valley and includes Laredo, where Cuellar has been a political powerhouse for decades.
In the March primary, Cisneros won the northern part of the district near San Antonio, but Cuellar rolled up large enough margins in rural areas further south to overtake her.
Cisneros, 28, an immigration attorney, challenged Cuellar in 2020 and came within 1,800 votes of unseating him. This time around, she has raised $4.4 million for the race, buoyed by support from groups supporting legal abortion. Cuellar has raised just $3 million, according to the latest Federal Elections Commission reports.
Republicans in the Texas legislature made the district more Republican during redistricting and are expected to make a run at flipping the seat this fall.
The Republican runoff features Cassy Garcia, a former aide to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, facing off against Sandra Whitten, a church leader and wife of a Border Patrol agent who was the GOP nominee for the seat in 2020.