Cuellar claims victory, Cisneros not conceding in one of the tightest races in Texas


By Bethany Blankley

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Loredo, claimed a late night win after Tuesday’s primary runoff election. He declared victory after unofficial totals showed him winning by 177 votes out of 45,000 cast. But Jessica Cisneros, his progressive challenger, hadn’t conceded.

At 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, she tweeted, “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.”

In a race that seemed too close to call most of the night, with 100% of the counties reporting, Cuellar unofficially received 50.2% of the vote and Cisneros received 49.5%. Vote totals aren't official until they're certified.

Just hours earlier, with 93% of the counties reporting, Cisneros led with 51.58% of the vote and Cuellar, 48.42%.

Cuellar issued a statement close to midnight, saying that all of the votes had been tallied and he was honored “to have once again been reelected as the Democratic Nominee for Congress.” He said the primary “was a hard-fought battle” and thanked his supporters and family.

Cuellar also spoke to reporters at his campaign headquarters in Laredo. He said when he first ran for Congress, he won by a narrower margin than he did on Tuesday, the Texas Tribune reported. "I know what it is to do a recount in an election contest. We have very good attorneys, and if we need to, we will defend our election victory," he said.

When asked by a reporter if the close race made him question his political positions, he replied, "I've always said 'you just can't go with the wind,'" adding that the Democratic Party had gone "a little bit to the left in many ways. I want to stay true to my principles ... to my community."

Cuellar, who’s been a vocal critic of President Joe Biden’s open border policies and is the only pro-life Democrat in the Texas delegation, has stood firm on his positions. After the draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion was leaked indicating the court would overturn Roe v. Wade, Cisneros called on the Democratic leadership to "withdraw their support of Henry Cuellar, who is the last anti-choice Democrat in the House."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who’d endorsed him for reelection, wasn’t deterred. "I'm supporting Henry Cuellar, he's a valued member of our caucus," she told reporters in a press conference May 12.

While Cisneros and other Democratic challengers attacked Cuellar on these issues, he said his positions “are positions that I think that the Republicans have been trying to attack other Democrats.”

He faces Republican challenger Casandra Garcia, former district director for Sen. Ted Cruz, in November.

Cuellar said Garcia “won’t be able to attack me on issues about the border, fighting for Border Patrol, making sure that we don’t have open borders,” adding that it would be harder for her than his Democratic challengers to defeat him.

Around midnight on election night, Garcia thanked her supporters, saying, “We have a lot of work to do, but we will do it together. We don't know our opponent yet, but we will flip this seat and win in November.”

District 28 stretches north to San Antonio and south to the Texas-Mexico border, encompassing more than 10 counties. It’s one of several southern border districts Republicans are hoping to flip in November. Its towns have been greatly impacted by illegal immigration, with increased crime plaguing residents in Laredo, Zapata, Rio Grande City, and Mission due to cartel and gang related activity.

Its constituents also include a large contingency of Roman Catholics. Those faithful to the church’s teachings are pro-life.

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