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Cuellar and Cisneros head to runoff for Texas’ 28th District

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Incumbent Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar and progressive Jessica Cisneros are heading to a runoff in late May in Texas’ 28th District, after neither candidate cleared the 50% mark in their highly contentious primary race on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press

Cuellar, who has represented the district since 2005, recently had his home raided by the FBI in January, as part of an investigation related to Azerbaijan and several U.S. businessmen. 

Cuellar led the pack with 48.5% of the vote, with Cisneros capturing 46.8%. Tannya Benavides, a progressive educator and first time candidate, got about 4.7% of the vote. Cuellar’s base of support in Laredo, as well as strong showing in the district’s rural counties, put him in the lead early Wednesday morning. Cisneros was able to keep Cuellar under 50% due to her turnout in Bexar County and San Antonio, as well as Guadalupe and Atascosa counties.

Cisneros, who interned for Cuellar in 2014, lost to him by less than 3,000 votes in her primary challenge in 2020.

“No matter what happens, whether again, the victory is coming today, later tonight, or tomorrow or maybe even in May. We are going to win because all of you are standing behind me,” Cisneros told supporters on Tuesday night. 

This is Cuellar’s first primary runoff election. Cisneros and her allies see the runoff is a victory for the campaign, after Cuellar won the 2020 primary outright.

“The fact that we are still waiting for results against an 18-year entrenched incumbent with millions of dollars in his war chest from corporate interest, and we’re standing here with people power is a testament how powerful those people [are],” Cisneros added. 

“This is a win for progressives and a rebuke of one of the worst Democrats in the House. It’s a moment Our Revolution members have worked hard for,” added Our Revolution Political Director Aaron Chappell. “Congressman Cuellar has continually fought for subsidies for fossil fuel companies while standing against workers’ right to organize. We hope tonight is the start of a new day in South Texas.”

Meanwhile, Cuellar has survived his toughest primary yet, despite the fact that his home was raided by the FBI weeks before the primary election. 

Cuellar currently serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, a role that voters in the district have cited as reason for their support. Cuellar’s stance on immigration, and advocacy for more border security resources, has also been a factor.

Republicans Cassie “Cassy” Garcia, a former deputy state director for Republican Senator Ted Cruz, and Sandra Whitten, the party’s only candidate on the ballot in 2020, are heading toward a runoff as well.

Seven Republican candidates were on the ballot in this year’s primary for Texas’ 28th district, compared to just one in 2020. 

Also in south Texas, Democrats in Texas’ 15th district are also primed for a runoff. Veteran and educator Ruben Ramirez and progressive small business owner Michell Vallejo have moved forward to a runoff election. The winner will face Republican candidate Monica De La Cruz in a highly targeted district for national Republicans. 

In Texas’ 3rd District in the Dallas suburbs, Republican incumbent Van Taylor is heading towards a runoff with former Collin County Judge Keith Self. Taylor was facing four challengers from the right this year, after voting for a commission to investigate the January 6 attacks. The commission Taylor voted for didn’t make it out of the Senate, and was later replaced by the current January 6 select committee, which he voted against. 

In Texas’ 35th District, which stretches from San Antonio to Austin, former Austin City Councilmember Greg Casar has won the Democratic primary and will be the party’s nominee in November. Casar is a progressive backed by the Justice Democrats group, which has also backed Cisneros. 

Runoff elections in Texas will take place May 24. 



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