Centrist Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) early Wednesday morning declared victory in his main challenge against leftist “Squad” candidate Jessica Cisneros in a runoff election — though the race was too close to call it.
As of 7:30 a.m. EST Wednesday, Cuellar held a less than a point lead with 94% of the constituencies reporting in the district – which stretches from the eastern border of San Antonio to Laredo on the Mexico border.
“Tonight the 28th congressional district spoke and we saw our great democratic system at work,” Cuellar wrote in a Statement posted on Twitter. “The results are in, all the votes have been counted — I’m honored to be re-elected again as the Democratic nominee for Congress.”
The Texas Democrat thanked his supporters and family, as well as Majority Whip Jim Clyburn for his support.
“Finally, I want to congratulate Jessica on a hard fought campaign,” he wrote. “I look forward to working with her and all Texans in the 28th Precinct to move forward and win in November! Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to serve you in Congress and I will continue to uphold our values in South Texas. Thank you and God bless America.”
Cisneros not yet granted Tell supporters, “We’re still waiting for every ballot and eligible vote to be counted.”
Less than 200 votes separated the candidates on Wednesday morning.
The race has highlighted a clash between leaders of the Democratic Party and the party’s nascent Socialist wing — with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and others making the trip to South Texas to stumble upon Cisneros, who turned 29 on Tuesday.
Cuellar narrowly held off Cisneros in a 2020 primary, beating them by just 1.5 percentage points in a first round of voting on March 1, triggering the runoff.
Cisneros, a former intern in Cuellar’s office, recently drew negative publicity for her relationship with her former high school teacher, John Balli, who publicly boasted that he recruited her to run for office.
Balli’s ex-wife accused Cisneros of wrecking their marriage, and a billboard removed by Cuellar allies in the final stretch of the campaign branded Cisneros a “home wrecker.”
Cuellar faced his own negative publicity over an FBI raid on his home in January that was reportedly linked to Azerbaijani businessmen.
Cisneros supports the establishment of a single-payer health care system and a number of other left-wing political positions. In contrast, Cueller is known for breaking with his party and has clashed with the Biden administration for failing to do more to prevent illegal immigration.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) has defended Cuellar despite the fact that he is the only self-proclaimed “pro-life” House Democrat amid a looming Supreme Court decision overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade to legalize abortion nationwide.
“I support my incumbents,” Pelosi said last week. “I support every one of them, from right to left. That’s what I do.”
“We’re having a big tent party, and if we’re going to be a big tent party, we’ve got to be a big tent party,” argued house majority whip supporting James Clyburn (D-SC) during a recent campaign trip to Cuellar. “I don’t think we should do a litmus test in the Democratic Party. I think we need to get as many people into the party as possible.”
But Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez have said the race is a big opportunity to sway Democrats to more progressive positions.
Sanders tweeted last week that Cisneros “offers a bold agenda that meets the needs of Texas’ 28th Circuit. Her opponent, one of the very few anti-choice Democrats in Congress, is funded by corporate contributions of over $1 million from big oil companies. She can win if we stand by her side.”
For her part, Ocasio-Cortez said at a pro-Cisneros rally in February that “when we flip Texas, we flip the country.”
https://nypost.com/2022/05/25/rep-henry-cueller-declares-win-over-squad-ally-jessica-cisneros/ Rep. Henry Cueller declares victory over “Squad” ally Jessica Cisneros