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Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar Survives Second Progressive Major Problem


Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar Survives Second Progressive Major Problem

LAREDO, Texas — Practically a month after voting ended, Rep. Henry Cuellar, the last House Democrat against abortion rights, formally clinched the Democratic nomination in Texas’ twenty eighth Congressional District.

For the second election cycle in a row, Cuellar defeated progressive legal professional Jessica Cisneros. The Related Press known as the race on Tuesday.

After an preliminary canvass of ballots solid, Cuellar led Cisneros by 281 votes, prompting him to declare victory.

Cisneros exercised her proper to demand a recount at her marketing campaign’s expense.

However the recount, which concluded on Tuesday, elevated Cuellar’s lead by a number of votes, in keeping with the Texas Democratic Party.

Cuellar “was somebody who nationwide teams focused, however who persistently held that he was a very good member for that district,” stated Joshua Clean, analysis director of the Texas Politics Challenge on the College of Texas, Austin. “On the finish of the day, whenever you’ve run efficiently in a district a number of instances, you already know the place to show voters out.”

The end result is a win for Home Democratic leaders, together with Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who stood by Cuellar regardless of stress from Cisneros and different progressives to drop him. Occasion leaders evidently believed Cuellar’s argument {that a} socially conservative nominee is the most effective wager in opposition to a Republican in Texas’ twenty eighth, which snakes from San Antonio to Laredo and factors southeast alongside the U.S.-Mexico border.

Cuellar is about to face the Republican nominee, Cassy Garcia, who’s a former aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — and the sources of a nationwide Republican Occasion decided to consolidate former President Donald Trump’s positive factors in South Texas. Hillary Clinton bested Trump in Texas’ twenty eighth by practically 20 proportion factors in 2016, however Joe Biden defeated him there by just four points in 2020.

Redistricting in 2021 made the seat barely extra Democratic. Biden would have received within the new boundaries by 7 percentage points ― giving the seat a Democratic tilt, however not one that’s insurmountable for Republicans throughout a probable GOP wave 12 months.

“I might ask anyone: Which is extra vital — to have a pro-life Democrat or to have an anti-abortion Republican?” Home Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said at a rally in help of Cuellar in San Antonio in early Could. “As a result of come November, that might very properly be the selection on this district.”

However Cuellar’s victory can also be a serious disappointment for progressives who had been hoping to do away with him.

Cuellar, 66, is a longtime ally of the fossil gas trade and the Nationwide Rifle Affiliation. He conjures up contempt on the left — from local weather activists to labor unions, pro-choice teams to pro-Palestine advocates — greater than every other Democrat within the Home of Representatives. Amongst different latest strikes in opposition to him, Cuellar was the one Democrat to vote in opposition to each the PRO Act bill to develop union rights and the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify a federal proper to abortion entry.

Because of this, Cisneros’ second problem in opposition to Cuellar, which got here to a detailed on Could 24 — her twenty ninth birthday — grew to become yet one more costly proxy battle between curiosity teams with completely different visions for the Democratic Occasion. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s tremendous PAC spent over $1.8 million to reelect Cuellar, and Mainstream Democrats, a centrist tremendous PAC funded in vital half by billionaire LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, kicked in nearly $800,000 on his behalf.

On the opposite facet, tremendous PACs tied to the pro-choice group EMILY’s Checklist, the Working Households Occasion, and Justice Democrats, the left-wing group that recruited Cisneros to run, spent greater than $1.5 million supporting Cisneros.

Cisneros bought a jolt of momentum in January when the FBI raided Cuellar’s dwelling in Laredo as a part of a federal probe reportedly associated with Azerbaijan’s affect peddling in Congress. She ended up trailing Cuellar by simply two proportion factors throughout the first spherical of main voting on March 1. The presence of a 3rd Democrat — Tannya Benavides, a former educator who later endorsed Cisneros — prevented Cuellar from acquiring an outright majority on the primary poll, prompting the Could 24 runoff election.

Jessica Cisneros took advantage of voters' fears about a forthcoming Supreme Court decision overturning abortion rights, as well as frustrations in Laredo over a tap water crisis.
Jessica Cisneros took benefit of voters’ fears a few forthcoming Supreme Court docket choice overturning abortion rights, in addition to frustrations in Laredo over a faucet water disaster.

Eric Homosexual/Related Press

The political winds once more broke Cisneros’ way when a draft of a Supreme Court docket choice to overturn Roe v. Wade leaked in the beginning of Could. The announcement elevated the salience of a key space of distinction between Cisneros, who’s pro-choice, and Cuellar, who opposes legalizing abortion besides in instances of rape, incest, and hazard to the well being of the pregnant particular person.

“With the Home majority on the road, he might very a lot be the deciding vote on the way forward for our reproductive rights and we can’t afford to take that danger,” Cisneros declared.

Regionally, Cisneros additionally made the case that Cuellar’s seniority and the federal funds he helped safe via his seat on the Home Appropriations Committee had not adequately raised residing requirements in Laredo. She singled out the town’s tap water crisis as a mirrored image of the shortcomings of a political class led by Cuellar.

Voters supporting Cisneros in Laredo’s much less affluent South Aspect instructed HuffPost that they had been backing her within the hopes of bringing change to the area’s political tradition and economic system.

“It’s simply arduous for low-income individuals, particularly on the South Aspect,” stated Christian Aviles, a trucking firm dispatcher who opposes abortion rights however nonetheless voted for Cisneros. “In any case these years, I believe there’s not sufficient being carried out.”

However Cuellar’s allies labored to muddy the waters on reproductive rights. Mainstream Democrats funded an advert claiming Cuellar would defend abortion rights. Unknown entities sympathetic to Cuellar additionally funded a billboard and a mock newspaper falsely claiming that Cisneros’ romantic relationship together with her former schoolteacher had derailed the educator’s subsequent marriage.

And in a low-turnout runoff, Cuellar was capable of rely on the help of Laredo’s usually older, socially conservative voters anxious that Cisneros was insufficiently supportive of border enforcement and capitalism.

Cuellar has “carried out a very good job,” stated Alejandro Vela Jr., who runs an engine restore enterprise along with his father on Laredo’s South Aspect. “You see the scenario of unlawful aliens coming? You want any person — you don’t need to minimize border patrol.”

Vela voted for Barack Obama twice, then voted for Trump twice. He stated he would vote for the Republican nominee if Cisneros received the first.

HuffPost requested Vela whether or not he thought Cisneros could be too dovish on border coverage.

“Sure,” Vela replied earlier than gesturing towards his father, who had accompanied him to vote. “She’s a socialist — all the pieces my dad went to struggle in opposition to in Vietnam.”

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