Rep. Henry Cuellar narrowly tops Jessica Cisneros in Texas 28th District

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A previous version of this article incorrectly said Rep. Henry Cuellar won by less than 200 votes. The Associated Press updated its tally, and he won by 289 votes. The article has been corrected.

Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar will narrowly win the Democratic nomination for Texas’ 28th congressional district after a contentious re-election battle against attorney Jessica Cisneros.

A recount of the results of a May 24 run-off revealed that Cuellar beat Cisneros by 289 votes. The Associated Press called the race for Cuellar on Tuesday.

While Cuellar had already declared victory after the May 24 elections, the AP refrained from calling the elections, saying the results were too close. Cisneros then called for a recount, which was overseen by the state Democratic Party and paid for by his campaign.

In a statement on Tuesday, Cuellar said the recount proved what he had already announced: that he was the one who would advance in the November general election.

“As I said on election night, ‘the margin will hold’ – and it has not only held but grown,” Cuellar said.

This isn’t the first time Cuellar has narrowly beaten Cisneros in a battle for Texas’ 28th District. Cisneros nearly beat her former boss — she interned for him in 2014 — in 2020. She lost that race by 1,700 votes.

Cuellar, the only anti-abortion Democrat in the U.S. House, had the support of senior Democrats such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (California), while Cisneros was supported by a new generation of more liberal Democrats, including the Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (NEW YORK). The 28th District will be competitive in the fall. Cuellar will now face Republican candidate Cassy Garcia, former deputy state director to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

In his statement Tuesday, Cuellar appeared to acknowledge the gulf between his views and those of most House Democrats.

“While we may differ on some positions, we share common ground on many issues to improve our communities and strengthen families,” Cuellar said. “I will continue to fight for Texas values ​​and will not let the coastal elites bring their failed agenda to our communities.”

Cisneros conceded the race on Tuesday, saying in a statement that she “always knew it was an uphill battle.”

“We were up against a corrupt political machine,” Cisneros said, accusing Cuellar of being funded by a number of conservative groups, including “the Republican-funded Super PACs, the Koch brothers… [and] the Chamber of Commerce” as well as “virtually the entire Democratic Party establishment in Washington.”

“We have always refused to back down”, Cisneros said. “With such a margin, it’s clear that without their aggressive interference in the lives of South Texas families, we would have won.”

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa congratulated Cuellar on his victory in a statement.

“We are grateful to Jessica Cisneros for the positive campaign she has spearheaded – highlighting the issues that really affect South Texas,” Hinojosa added. “We all know she will continue to fight for South Texans as we rally behind our candidate, Henry Cuellar.”

Arelis R. Hernández contributed to this report.

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