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Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democratic congressman from Texas’ 28th district, leads primary challenger Jessica Cisneros by just 177 votes in their runoff after the ballots were counted on Tuesday.
Cuellar, who has served in Congress since 2005, declared victory early Wednesday morning.
“Tonight the 28th Congressional District spoke and we saw our great Democratic system in action,” a confident Cuellar said in a statement. “The results are in, all the votes have been tallied. I’m honored to have been re-elected once again as the Democratic candidate for Congress.”
However, Cisneros, from the left, was not ready to give in.
PRIMARY ELECTIONS IN GEORGIA, ALABAMA, TEXAS RELIEF
“This election is still too close to be called, and we are still waiting for every ballot and eligible vote to be counted,” Cisneros tweeted. “This fight is not over.”
For now, Cisneros is correct, because mail-in ballots that were mail-sealed Tuesday can still be counted if delivered to county officials by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Also, the tiny margin means that Cisneros can request a recount.
Holder Cuellar told reporters he was ready.
DEMS CUELLAR AND CISNEROS HEAD TO TEXAS US HOUSE PRIMARY
“I know what it’s like to do a recount on an election campaign,” he said, according to the Texas Tribune. “We have very good lawyers and if we need them, we will defend our electoral victory.”
Cuellar himself used a recount to take office in the first place. After trailing by less than 150 votes over incumbent Ciro Rodriguez in 2004, and after a recount, he won by 58 votes.
The race between Cuellar and Cisneros drew attention after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion called for Roe v. Wade to be struck down, putting abortion rights in the hands of states individuals rather than having the practice recognized as a constitutional right.
Cuellar is the only House Democrat to be pro-life, and other members of his party have sued him over it. It also received a positive rating from the National Rifle Association, although in recent years it has called for a stronger background check system for gun purchases.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., lambasted the Democratic establishment for backing Cuellar despite those stances, especially given concerns over abortion rights and the shooting at a school in Tuesday in the home state of Cuellar, Texas.
“On the day of a mass shooting and weeks after Roe’s announcement, the Democratic Party leadership rallied behind a pro-NRA, anti-choice incumbent under investigation in a tight primary,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Robocalls, fundraisers, all that stuff. Accountability isn’t partisan. It was a total failure of leadership.”
She added, “Congress shouldn’t be an incumbent protection racket and sadly it’s treated like that by far too many.”
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The investigation Ocasio-Cortez referred to involved an FBI raid on Cuellar’s home and office earlier this year. Cuellar’s attorney told Fox News that the Justice Department assured Cuellar that he was not the target of the investigation.
Cuellar previously beat Cisneros in a close game in the 2020 Democratic primary.
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