SAN ANTONIO – UPDATE (From AP): U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar has defeated a 26-year-old immigration attorney who mounted a closer-than-expected primary challenge for his South Texas district.
Cuellar won Tuesday’s primary election over Jessica Cisneros, who once interned for him and accused the longtime moderate of being out of touch with his border district.
Cisneros was backed by Justice Democrats, the progressive group allied with Bernie Sanders that helped now U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez win a shocking primary upset two years ago.
Cuellar and his family are fixtures in Laredo, the border city that anchors the district. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Laredo a week before the primary to support Cuellar, who sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
Cuellar originally dismissed Cisneros as a noisy outsider but toward the end ran TV ads as the threat of her candidacy became clear.
“Over the course of this campaign, we trusted the hard work of our staff and volunteers, and we trusted the voters to stand up for their community values and beliefs. For that, my family and I thank everyone involved, especially the voters for their display of confidence in my ability to represent Texas’s 28th district,” Cuellar said in a statement Wednesday. "These results show that even in heavily democratic districts, a majority of voters still want us to be a big tent party, where moderates are welcome.
“As Democrats, we must continue protecting the majority in the House, taking back the Senate, as well as taking back the White House. I am proud to have overcome this challenge, and to my opponent I wish you the best. I’m already in Washington, D.C., back to work and continuing to fight for the constituents in my district.”
Although Jessica Cisneros won the vote for Texas’ 28th Congressional District in Bexar County, incumbent Henry Cuellar led the race throughout Texas.
Cuellar, who faced off against Cisneros to become the Democratic candidate, had 51.85% of the vote in Texas, as of 5 a.m. Wednesday with 95% of polling locations reporting.
Cisneros had 48% of the vote in Texas. In Bexar County, she had 66% of the vote.
Sandra Whitten is running unopposed in the race for the Republican candidacy.
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The person who wins the seat in November will represent a district that goes as far south as the Rio Grande Valley, along the border to Laredo and parts of Bexar, Wilson and Atascosa counties.
Cuellar is a moderate Democrat who has held the seat since 2004. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has endorsed him.
Cisneros is a progressive candidate who has received support from Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Cisneros is an immigration attorney who has argued that Cuellar is President Donald “Trump’s favorite Democrat” because of his moderate voting record.
The Democratic race has drawn more than $2 million in outside spending.