Incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) holds a slim lead over his progressive challenger in a tightly contested primary race that has centered around abortion and gun rights. Democratic leadership put their weight behind Cuellar, while progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have backed immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros.
Outside groups injected more than $12 million into the primary race for Texas’s 28th Congressional District. The race is still too close to call with Cuellar leading by less than half a percent. But that didn’t stop the nine-term congressman from declaring victory in the race.
“The results are in, all the votes have been tallied,” Cuellar said in a statement issued on Twitter on Wednesday. “I am honored to have once again been reelected as the Democratic Nominee for Congress.”
Cisneros has refused to concede defeat. She is urging all her supporters to check their mail-in and provisional ballots with the Texas Secretary of State’s office to ensure they are counted.
“This election is still too close to call, and we are still waiting for every ballot and eligible vote to be counted,” she tweeted the same day.
After a leaked draft of a court decision revealed that the Supreme Court may well overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion rights took center stage in the race. Ocasio-Cortez also expressed frustration that Cuellar received support from the top three Democrats in the House of Representatives in the form of a speech and robocalls.
“On the day of a mass shooting and weeks after news of Roe, Democratic Party leadership rallied for a pro-NRA, anti-choice incumbent under investigation in a close primary,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter on Tuesday. “Accountability isn’t partisan. This was an utter failure of leadership.”
Cuellar is one of the last openly “pro-life” Democrats in office. He attributes his position on the issue to his Catholic background.
“I’m a Catholic and personally I’m against abortion,” Cuellar told San Antonio’s KENS-TV earlier this month. “But do I believe in an outright ban? No.”
Cuellar’s “A” rating with the National Rifle Association is also a point of contention following a shooting that left 19 children and 2 teachers dead at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.