Henry Cuellar, Jessica Cisneros advance to runoff for Congressional District 28

May 24 runoff will also include GOP candidates Cassy Garcia, Sandra Whitten

Henry Cuellar, Jessica Cisneros advance to runoff for Congressional District 28

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With 100% of precincts reporting, the tight Democratic primary for Congressional District 28 is headed to a runoff.

Immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros and Congressman Henry Cuellar went back and forth, trading the lead on Tuesday. Ultimately, neither candidate cleared the 50% threshold to clinch the nomination.

Candidate

Votes

%

Henry Cuellar*(D)
23,55248%
Jessica Cisneros(D)
22,78547%
Tannya Judith Benavides(D)
2,2895%
*Incumbent
100% of Precincts Reporting

(285 / 285)

The pair will face off on May 24 in a runoff. It will be a rematch of 2020′s primary when Cuellar barely held off Cisneros.

But the momentum shifted a few months ago when FBI investigators raided the congressman’s home in Laredo. Cuellar maintains his innocence and no charges have been filed.

Cuellar released the following statement on Wednesday:

“This Tuesday, the 28th Congressional District spoke, and we witnessed our great Democratic system at work. After winning the most votes and showing the largest amount of support, we will now move to a runoff election on May 24th and we are confident we will win. Thank you to God, my family, Imelda, Christy, and Catie, and all of our wonderful supporters who have done so much already these last few months, we are ready to keep going. I look forward to once again winning the majority of voters and come May 24th, be re-elected as the Democratic Nominee for Congress,” he said.

Cisneros, a progressive Democrat, said she is capable of building a politically diverse coalition.

“I think I’d actually be the most independent candidate, especially in this runoff election, to be able to do that because I’m not taking a single dime of corporate PAC,” she said.

On the Republican side, Cassy Garcia outdistanced a crowded pack with 23% of the vote. She will face Sandra Whitten, who captured 18% of the vote, in the runoff.

Candidate

Votes

%

Cassy Garcia(R)
5,86723%
Sandra Whitten(R)
4,50418%
Steven Fowler(R)
3,36213%
Willie Vasquez Ng(R)
3,32413%
Ed Cabrera(R)
3,32313%
Eric Hohman(R)
2,97112%
Rolando Rodriguez(R)
1,6166%
100% of Precincts Reporting

(285 / 285)

Votes cast on Election Day have not yet been counted.

Background

If U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar thought he saw his most serious challenge in the 2020 Democratic primary, he could be in for a bigger fight in the March 2022 primary for the District 28 congressional seat.

The Democrat from Laredo will be facing immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros in a primary rematch. The last time the two met Cuellar edged out Cisneros, winning 51.8% of the vote.

While Cisneros received backing from progressives the last time around, she got a huge boost to her campaign this year when she received an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during a rally in San Antonio.

Cuellar, who is seeking his 10th term in office, also has an FBI investigation hanging over his campaign. FBI agents raided his home in Laredo in January. The investigation remains active although Cuellar denies any wrongdoing.

A third candidate, teacher and organizer Tannya Judith Benavides, is also running in the Democratic primary.

Republicans are also hoping to put up a competitive race in the district, as they have made progress with Latino voters in South Texas in 2020. Here’s a look at the crowded GOP primary field.

Cassy Garcia

Casandra “Cassy” Garcia is a political staffer, having served most recently as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s Deputy State Director. She was appointed by then-President Donald Trump in July of 2020 to serve as Commissioner for the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative. According to her campaign website, her priorities include “creating jobs, protecting innocent life, and upholding our Constitutional rights.”

Sandra Whitten

Whitten, a youth and preschool director, was the Republican nominee for the district in 2020, but lost to Cuellar in the general election. On her campaign website, Whitten said the fact that she received almost double the number of votes than any other GOP candidate in the district’s history propelled her to run again. Her priorities include border security, jobs and healthcare.

Steven Fowler

Lt. Col. Steven Fowler flew dozens of combat missions over Afghanistan for the U.S. Air Force and is a small business owner. On his campaign website, Fowler said he plans to “fight like hell against radical Democrats in Washington, D.C.” His campaign priorities include border security, job security and police funding.

Ed Cabrera

Cabrera is a rancher and small business owner who said he is running for office because he “has experienced the issues that are challenging the area” and his business background can help solve those issues. According to his campaign website, Cabrera’s priorities include a secure border, defense of family values and job creation.

Eric Hohman

Hohman, a management analyst, served 15 years in the Air Force where he served as a military police officer. According to his campaign website, he is running for office “to stand up to the DC politicians who are taking our country in the wrong direction.” His priorities include border security, defending the Second Amendment and stopping human trafficking.

Willie Vasquez Ng

Ng is a former Bexar County Sheriff candidate who lost in the Republican primary in 2020. He worked in various capacities in the San Antonio Police Department and Bexar County District Attorney’s Office. He owns a security firm. According to Ng’s campaign website, his main priorities include protecting the Second Amendment, border security and backing police.

Rolando Rodriguez

Rodriguez has owned several small businesses over the years. Rodriguez said he is running for office “to protect my country from socialist democrat policies that are designed to harm and not to help us.” According to his campaign website, Rodriguez’s priorities include banning abortion, fair imports and exports tax, and religious freedom.

. (U.S. Congress)

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About the Authors:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Kolten Parker is digital executive producer at KSAT. Previously, he worked at the San Antonio Express-News and the Texas Observer.