Moderate Rep. Cuellar Claims Victory Against Progressive Cisneros in Texas Primary Runoff

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
May 25, 2022 Updated: May 25, 2022

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) on May 25 claimed victory in the close Democrat primary runoff for the seat he holds representing Texas’s 28th Congressional District.

“The results are in, all the votes have been tallied—I am honored to have once again been re-elected as the Democratic nominee for Congress,” Cuellar said in a statement.

With all precincts reporting, Cuellar had 177 more votes than challenger Jessica Cisneros, according to unofficial results reported by the Texas Secretary of State’s Office.

“This primary was a hard-fought battle and I’d like to thank my supporters, who were instrumental in this victory,” Cuellar said.

Cisneros, 29, an immigration attorney and a self-described progressive, has not yet conceded.

“This election is still too close to call, and we are still waiting for every ballot and eligible vote to be counted,” she said late Tuesday.

Cuellar is one of the most moderate Democrats in Congress, sticking to his pro-life stance despite strong pushback from some colleagues and criticism from Cisneros. He has also been vocal in calling for President Joe Biden’s administration to handle border enforcement better, one of the few Democrats to broach the issue amid the unprecedented surge in illegal immigration.

Much of the district lies at or close to the border. Parts are located in San Antonio.

Cuellar drew support from top House leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Leaders typically support incumbents.

Cuellar, 66, has been in office since 2005.

The runoff took place after both Cuellar and Cisneros failed to get a majority of the vote in the primary earlier in May. Cuellar won 48.5 percent of the vote in the primary. Cisneros took 46.8 percent. Tannya Benavides, a community organizer, won 4.5 percent.

The runoff had voters choosing between only Cuellar and Cisneros.

Republican voters also chose between two candidates on Tuesday, Cassy Garcia, the former deputy state director for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and church preschool director Sandra Whitten.

Garcia won the runoff with about 57 percent of the votes.

If the results are certified, Cuellar will face Garcia in the general election.

Elsewhere in Texas, business executive Jrmar Jefferson won the runoff to advance to the general election against Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran in the race for the seat representing Texas’s 1st Congressional District; small business owner Michelle Vallejo appeared to come out ahead in the runoff for the seat representing Texas’s 15th Congressional District; and Republican consultant James Rodgers and state Rep. Jasmine Crockett, a Democrat, won their respective runoffs to face off for the seat representing Texas’s 30th Congressional District.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.