After FBI raid, Henry Cuellar launches new TV ad for reelection campaign

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellars political fate has been thrown into uncertainty since FBI agents searched his home and campaign headquarters. (Robin Jerstad For The Texas Tribune, Robin Jerstad For The Texas Tribune)

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U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, is airing a new TV ad in which he says he will “never stop fighting for South Texas,” a sign that he is not backing away from his reelection campaign after FBI agents raided his home Wednesday.

The 30-second spot is set to go on the air this weekend and was first shared with The Texas Tribune. The commercial begins by showing Cuellar standing in a field, saying it is where many migrant workers like his parents “got their shot at the American dream.”

“This land gave my family a chance,” Cuellar says at the end. “That’s why I’ll never stop fighting for South Texas.”

The ad will run in English and Spanish in the Laredo and San Antonio media markets, according to the campaign.

Cuellar’s political fate was thrown into uncertainty with the arrival of the FBI agents, who also went to his campaign headquarters. The agency said it was conducting a “court-authorized law enforcement activity” but did not say what it was investigating.

A grand jury has issued subpoenas for records relating to Cuellar; his wife, Imelda; and at least one of his campaign staffers, and their ties to Azerbaijan companies, an ABC News report said. A member of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, Cuellar has been a strong advocate for Azerbaijan’s interests.

Cuellar’s office said he would cooperate with any probe. His TV ad makes no mention of the raid.

The primary is less than a month and a half away, and Cuellar faces a serious challenger in Jessica Cisneros, who ran against him in 2020 and lost by 4 percentage points. A third Democrat, Tannya Benavides, is also on the primary ballot this time. Meanwhile, Republicans are eyeing the seat in November as they try to make new inroads in South Texas.

For now, though, it appears Cuellar wants the world to know he is not going anywhere.

“Congressman Cuellar has a proven track record of delivering for South Texas and will continue to do so for years to come,” Cuellar’s campaign says in a forthcoming news release about the TV ad.

Cuellar has plenty of money for the pre-primary stretch. He ended last year with $2.3 million cash on hand, according to his campaign.

Still, Cuellar lost an ally Thursday, when a group that had been airing TV commercial touting him, Better Jobs Together, canceled its ads for the rest of the month. People involved with the group did not respond to requests for comment.