Nancy Pelosi affirms support for U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar after FBI raid, primary runoff berth

Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi campaigned with U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar in 2020 at his campaign headquarters in Laredo . (Robin Jerstad For The Texas Tribune, Robin Jerstad For The Texas Tribune)

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi affirmed her support Wednesday for U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, who was forced into a primary runoff earlier this month after the FBI raided his home.

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“I support my incumbents,” Pelosi said during an unrelated news conference in Austin. “I support every one of them, from right to left. That is what I do.”

Cuellar, a centrist Democrat, is in the runoff against Jessica Cisneros, the progressive challenger who ran against him in 2020 and lost by a small margin. In the lead-up to that primary, Pelosi visited Laredo and campaigned for Cuellar, which she did not do this time.

The FBI raid, which happened in January, continues to loom over Cuellar’s reelection bid. The FBI has not said what it was investigating, and Cuellar has denied any wrongdoing.

“I don’t know what it is,” Pelosi said when a reporter asked her about the FBI matter. “I haven’t seen anything, have you? Do you know what it’s about?”

Republicans believe they have a chance to flip Cuellar’s district in November as they push to make new inroads in South Texas. There is a GOP primary runoff underway between Cassy Garcia, a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, and Sandra Whitten, the 2020 GOP nominee for the seat.

While reiterating her policy of supporting incumbents, Pelosi said she “also [has] my eye on November because we have no intention of losing.”

Pelosi made the remarks at a morning news conference with U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, to mark the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

Cuellar also has the backing of the No. 2 House Democrat, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland. The House majority leader endorsed Cuellar before the FBI raid and has since reiterated his support. Cisneros has the backing of many of her party’s most prominent progressives, including U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley.

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