Razor-thin margins between Jessica Cisneros and incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar in the race for the Democratic nomination in U.S. House District 28 made the race too close to call Tuesday night. Cuellar led with 50.2% of the vote.
Cuellar declared victory via Twitter five minutes before midnight, citing just 177 votes separating him and Cisneros — who declined to concede. In a tweet 30 minutes after Cuellar’s claim of victory, Cisneros said her campaign is still waiting for every ballot and eligible vote to be counted.
Mail-in ballots in Texas will be counted through Wednesday, and Cisneros could call for a recount, given the slim margin.
In Bexar County, nearly 86% of early voters favored Cisneros, 29, who has been endorsed by progressives, including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Cuellar, the centrist Democrat who has held the seat for 17 years, is in a rematch against Cisneros. Cuellar, 66, narrowly won the 2020 runoff against the civil rights attorney with nearly 52% of the vote. The district stretches from northeast San Antonio south to the U.S-Mexico border.
Meanwhile, Cuellar boasts endorsements from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, and other centrists — despite his stance on abortion that contradicts the party line. He has said abortion should only be allowed in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother.
“No movement on that,” he told reporters after a campaign event in San Antonio earlier this month, although in the wake of the leaked Supreme Court ruling, he denounced a total ban, saying it was without precedent and would “further divide the country during these already divisive times.”
In campaign material, Cisneros has highlighted his opposition to a woman’s right to choose. If the Supreme Court strips the nation of a federally-protected right to an abortion, that will mean an all-out ban for Texans, with no exceptions even for rape, or incest, 30 days after the court overturns Roe v. Wade.
“Jessica is running against a candidate … who currently believes that it’s appropriate for the government at the federal, state, and local level to tell every woman in this country what she can or cannot do with her body,” Sanders told more than 500 of her supporters at a rally hosted by Second Baptist Church in San Antonio on Friday. “Jessica Cisneros is here to fight for the working class.”
Cuellar took another political ding after the FBI raided his home earlier this year. His attorney said Cuellar was not the target of the investigation, but his campaign has since lost staff and struggled to keep up with Cisneros’ fundraising.
In the Republican runoff, Cassy Garcia seemed poised for a win. She received nearly 60% of the vote over Sandra Whitten, who was the 2020 GOP nominee for the seat. Garcia is a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Congressional District 21
In the Democratic primary for Congressional District 21, Claudia Zapata, an Austin community activist, received just shy of 64% of the vote over Ricardo Villarreal, a San Antonio-based physician and Army veteran,
Zapata is also a former budget analyst for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. As a progressive, her campaign focused on immigration reform and support of the Green New Deal.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Chip Roy easily secured his spot on the Republican ballot for the conservative-leaning district, which stretches from San Antonio to Austin and west of Interstate 35 to include Comal, Kerr, Gillespie, Kendall, Blanco and Real counties.
Congressional District 35
While Greg Casar secured the Democratic nomination for Congressional District 35 outright in the March 1 primary, Dan McQueen and Michael Rodriguez were on Tuesday’s runoff ballot for the Republican side of the ticket.
McQueen, who was elected as Corpus Christi’s mayor in 2016 but resigned after 37 days, received a little more than 61% of the vote.
The Democratic-leaning district extends from Austin to San Antonio’s northeast suburbs and its urban core.