Top House Democrat to campaign for Henry Cuellar in runoff with progressive Jessica Cisneros


WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar is bringing in reinforcements as he works to fend off a challenge from immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros, who forced the longtime Laredo congressman into a primary runoff.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat who is among the party’s most influential figures, is heading to San Antonio next month to campaign for Cuellar just weeks before the May 24 election. Cuellar serves as a chief deputy to Clyburn.

The support is a major assist for Cuellar since the FBI searched his home and campaign office in January — and could be a sign that Democratic leadership is ready to throw more weight behind the 17-year incumbent, who finished with 48.5 percent of the vote to Cisneros’s 47 percent in March. Cuellar’s attorney has said Justice Department prosecutors told him the congressman is not a target in the investigation.

The trip also further establishes the divide between the South Texas Democrats, who are facing off in one of the most closely watched congressional races in the country. Cuellar is backed by House leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while Cisneros has drawn endorsements from some of the biggest stars of the political left, including U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren campaigned for Ciseneros in San Antonio ahead of the March 2 primary.

San Antonio has become critical in the race for the South Texas district, which was redrawn to stretch further into the city and now includes tens of thousands more voting age residents from Bexar County. Cuellar has struggled in that portion of the district. Cisneros drew more than 70 percent of the vote in Bexar County in March.

Clyburn has a history of helping moderates in Democratic primaries. His endorsement of President Joe Biden in 2020 is credited with boosting Biden over the rest of the Democratic presidential field by helping him win a key primary in Clyburn’s home state after a string of early losses.

In a statement, Cisneros pointed to votes Cuellar took as the lone Democrat to oppose his priority legislation for his party, including bills upholding abortion rights and bolstering unions.

“It’s frustrating to see House leadership support Cuellar when I know that if elected I would be a better partner in delivering on democratic priorities for the people of TX-28,” she said.

[email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *