The Democratic primary between Rep. Henry Cuellar and progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros is incredibly close, and almost certainly headed to a recount before an official result. With 100 percent of the votes counted, Cuellar, the sole remaining House Democrat who opposes abortion rights, led Cisneros by just 177 votes by midnight. Cuellar declared victory, but Cisneros has not yet conceded. Shortly after Cuellar's claim of victory, Cisneros tweeted last night, "This election is still too close to call, and we are still waiting for every ballot and eligible vote to be counted." She added, "This fight isn't over. It was a blessed 29th birthday." [Heart Emoji] Twenty-nine? Even if she ends up not winning this time, we haven't seen the last of Jessica Cisneros.
And as the Texas Tribune points out, it could be a few days before the race is finally decided. The gap is close enough that Cisneros can ask for a recount, and domestic mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Election Day can still be counted if they arrive at county elections offices by 5 p.m. today. What with it being Texas, we wouldn't be the least bit surprised to learn that in the event of a tie, the race might be decided by armadillos somehow.
Cuellar told reporters that he's cool with it taking a while for the outcome to become clear, since the 2004 election that sent him to Congress in the first place had to go to a recount, too.
I know what it is to do a recount in an election contest. [...] We have very good attorneys and if we need to, we will defend our election victory.
This is the second time Cisneros has challenged Cuellar; in 2020, Cuellar won the primary with an outright majority, and that seemed likely this year too, in terms of fundraising and polling. But then in January, his house and campaign office were both raided by the FBI as part of an investigation into nobody still knows yet what it was (his attorney says only that Cuellar isn't the target of the investigation).
That was enough of an opening for Cisneros to start attracting more funding and volunteers, and she did well enough in the March primary that Cuellar was unable to reach 50 percent plus one vote, forcing a primary. After that, boom, at the start of this month Politico released that draft SCOTUS opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, and Cuellar's status as the sole Democratic House member who still opposes abortion rights gave Cisneros a much wider fundraising base.
Even so, Cuellar has a lot of support in Laredo, and with his longstanding tenure in the House, he got plenty of financial and campaign support from the Democratic Party (that is how it goes do not yell at me for pointing it out). It may have been enough for him to hold onto the seat for another cycle. The winner of the primary will go on to face Republican Cassy Garcia, a former staffer for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Ew Gross Yuck).
The usual political ratings outfits are calling the seat a toss-up, and as the Texas Tribune notes, November might not be easy sledding for either Cuellar or Cisneros:
Cuellar could again be damaged by FBI investigation, if not cleared by then, and Cisneros, some political analysts predict, is too progressive for the region. [...]
Cisneros and the many progressive groups that backed her repeatedly hammered Cuellar for taking campaign donations from the private prison industry, the oil and gas industry and health insurance companies. Cuellar also has broken with the party to side with Republicans who wish to extend Title 42, a Trump-era health policy that allows immigration officials to expel migrants quickly, even those seeking asylum, because of COVID-19 concerns.
Well no sir, none of that sounds like anything we can get behind much, apart from the obvious fact that if he does win the primary, Cuellar would still be far better than the GOP's Garcia, because have you seen those loons, the end.
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