LAREDO, Texas (Border Report) — Congressman Henry Cuellar early Wednesday declared himself the winner of the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 28th District after unofficial results had him leading Jessica Cisneros by 177 votes.
Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, in an upstairs room at his campaign headquarters in Laredo, Cuellar said “we won” to Border Report and one other media outlet.
“When I won the first time I won by 57 votes, so yes it is a landslider,” Cuellar said smiling and hugging family and friends and referencing his first race for Congress in 2004.
The nine-time incumbent faced his toughest battle yet from Cisneros, an immigration lawyer who was backed by Justice Democrats, a political action committee, and a progressive machine that brought in most of her funding from outside of the district.
“It is clear. A lot of people told us we couldn’t win this race and we won this race because of the good people from the 28th who stood up and said they wanted me to go back again as a member of Congress,” Cuellar said.
Cisneros has not reached out to Cuellar and it is uncertain whether she will contest the election or ask for a recount because of such a close margin.
With all precincts reporting, Cuellar received 22,694 votes or 50.2%. Cisneros received 22,517 or 49.8%, according to unofficial results from the Texas Secretary of State’s website.
“If we need to we will defend our election victory” should Cisneros ask for a recount, Cuellar said.
He was joined by his two daughters and wife, Imelda, as well as his brother, Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar, and other campaign workers who blew air horns and pumped fists into the air over the perceived win.
This was Cuellar’s toughest political fight yet. The primary election came just weeks after the FBI raided his home and offices. He has not been charged with anything and he has said publicly he is fully cooperating with law enforcement.
Cisneros criticized his opposition to abortion in light of a draft majority opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“The Democratic Party has gone a little bit to the left in many ways. I want to stay true to my principles. I want to stay true to my community,” Cuellar said.
Cisneros’ camp said she would only speak to reporters during a news conference at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Laredo. However, shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, a spokesperson for Cisneros told Report Border that the news conference had been canceled.
Border Report has repeatedly reached out to Cisneros’ office for an interview, but the requests went unanswered.
If the results are upheld, Cuellar will face Republican Cassy Garcia who won the GOP runoff for District 28 against Sandra Whitten.