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

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A previous version of this article mistakenly said Rep. Henry Cuellar won by fewer than 200 votes. The Associated Press has updated its count, and it won by 289 votes. The article has been corrected.

Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar will narrowly get to claim the Democratic nomination for Texas’s 28th Congressional District after a contentious reelection battle against attorney Jessica Cisneros.

A recount of the results of a May 24 runoff found that Cuellar defeated Cisneros by 289 votes. The Associated Press called the race for Cuellar on Tuesday.

While Cuellar had already declared victory following the May 24 election, the AP held off from calling the election, explaining that the results were too close. Cisneros then filed for a recount, which was overseen by the state’s Democratic Party and paid for by her campaign.

In a statement Tuesday, Cuellar said the recount proved what he’d already announced: that it was he who would move on to 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 is not the first time Cuellar narrowly defeated Cisneros in a battle for Texas’s 28th District. Cisneros came close to beating her former boss — she interned for him in 2014 — in 2020. She lost that race by 1,700 votes.

Cuellar, the lone antiabortion Democrat in the US House, had the support of top-ranking House Democrats such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), while Cisneros was endorsed by a new generation of more liberal Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY). The 28th District will be competitive in the fall. Cuellar will now face Republican candidate Cassy Garcia, a former deputy state director for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

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

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

Cisneros conceded the race Tuesday, saying in a statement that she “always knew this 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 “Republican-funded Super PACs, the Koch brothers … [and] the Chamber of Commerce” as well as “nearly the entire Democratic Party establishment in Washington.”

“We still refused to back down,” Cisneros said. “With this close of 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 win in a statement.

“We’re grateful to Jessica Cisneros for the positive campaign she ran — shining a light on the issues that are really impacting South Texas,” Hinojosa added. “We all know she will continue to fight for South Texans as we rally together behind our nominee, Henry Cuellar.”

Arelis R. Hernández contributed to this report.

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