Rep. Henry Cuellar fends off AOC-backed progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros in Texas’ 28th district

  • Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar successfully fought off a primary challenge from 26-year-old immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros in Texas’ 28th congressional district.
  • The race, which received national attention, was a major clash between the progressive and moderate wings of the party.
  • Polls closed at 7 p.m. Central Time and 8 p.m. Eastern Time – scroll down for live results.

Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar successfully fended off a primary challenge from 26-year-old immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros in Texas’ 28th congressional district, a race that received significant outside attention and spending.

Texas 28th district Democratic primary results:

Cisneros has conceded:

What’s at stake in the primary?

Jessica Cisneros, a 26-year-old immigration and human rights attorney, ran to challenge Rep. Henry Cuellar from the left with a progressive, grassroots campaign – years after she worked as an intern in his congressional office.

Cuellar, a member of the House Appropriations Committee who has the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and tens of local officials, is “one of the most conservative Hispanic Democrats” in the country, according to CNN. Between January 2017 and January 2019, Cuellar voted in line with President Donald Trump’s position more than 68% of the time, FiveThirtyEight found.

And similarly to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ and Ayanna Pressley’s primary challenges, Cisneros is arguing that Cuellar – who she calls “Trump’s favourite Democrat” due to him voting with Trump’s interests a majority of the time in the House – is fundamentally out of step with the heavily Democratic district he represents.

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Who are the candidates?

Cuellar is one of just two anti-abortion House Democrats along with Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois, and holds an A rating from the National Rifle Associaton, an organisation reviled by most Democrats for its aggressive lobbying in favour of expanding gun rights.

Cisneros picked up high-profile endorsements from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, a slew of progressive House members, several influential national and Texas labour unions, Planned Parenthood’s political arm, and EMILY’s List, which supports pro-choice women running for office.

Like many of her endorsers, Cisneros supports progressive policies including the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.

Meanwhile, both Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairwoman Rep. Cheri Bustos and Speaker Nancy Pelosi personally travelled to the district in support of Cuellar.

Groups including the powerful Koch Network also contributed to Cuellar, marking the first time the Koch operation has supported a Democrat in a federal election.

Cisneros was confident in her potential to win. “I haven’t had a single person disagree with me in terms of my policies,” she told the Texas Tribune in November. But so is Cuellar, according to campaign spokesman Colin Strother. He will win “by a sizable, comfortable margin,” Strother told CNN last week.

“We’re not allowing a 26-year-old young lady who’s never done anything question the character of a dedicated public servant,” Strother recently told Buzzfeed News of Cisneros’ challenge.