McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Incumbent U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar will be the Democratic nominee for Texas’ 28th Congressional District and will try to win his 10th term in Congress in November, after the Texas Democratic Party announced Tuesday he beat progressive young immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros in the runoff election for the border seat.
Cuellar won by 289 votes over Cisneros, beating her 22,901 to 22,612, the Democratic Party announced in a statement Tuesday.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you in Congress and I will continue to represent our values in South Texas and fight for your priorities: secure the border, lower taxes, supporting police and border patrol, and fighting to protect oil and gas jobs,” Cuellar said in a statement.
“After a hard-fought primary battle, the voters of South Texas have spoken and they have decided that Henry Cuellar will again represent them in Washington, continuing his work to lead the Borderland and stand up for hard-working middle-class families from Laredo to San Antonio,” Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. “We’re grateful to Jessica Cisneros for the positive campaign she ran — shining a light on the issues that are really impacting South Texas. We all know she will continue to fight for South Texans as we rally together behind our nominee, Henry Cuellar.”
Cisneros requested a recount after the May 23 election for the hotly contested South Texas border seat.
The Democratic Party found that Cisneros’ vote count actually went down by five votes in Bexar County, where San Antonio is located. And she lost two votes in Webb County. But she gained one vote in Duval County and four votes in Starr County.
Cuellar also gained some votes including two votes in Duval, one in Jim Hogg County, and four in Starr County. And he lost one vote in Atascosa County.
On election night, Cuellar told Border Report that he believed he had the numbers and would prevail. He called this last runoff election a “landslider” compared to the just 57 votes by which he won in 2004 when he first got into office.
Cisneros, 29, on Tuesday afternoon issued a statement conceding defeat.
“We always knew this was an uphill battle,” Cisneros said in a statement. “The biggest thing holding us back from pursuing the change we deserve is their fear. Fear of change, fear of the future. But the only way you defeat fear is with courage and determination that in the richest nation in the world, we all deserve to thrive. Change is a process — and through this process, we’re educating our community that we deserve better than the status quo. Better than representatives that won’t fight for our healthcare, our reproductive rights, our union brothers and sisters, and our immigrant friends and families.
“I’m so grateful for every single one of our staff, volunteers and all the organizations and working families who got involved in this underdog race. We are going to keep fighting, keep organizing. And make sure we are shining a spotlight on the injustices in our community. We’re going to keep fighting to create a more progressive and accountable Democratic Party this year and work to turn Texas blue in November,” she said.
Cisneros had the backing of many lawmakers as well as funding from national organizations, like Justice Democrats.
This is a heavily Democratic seat that progressives wanted to take away from Cuellar who is considered too moderate for many in the border region.
Cuellar will now face Republican nominee Cassie Garcia in the November general election.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com