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Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) speaks with reporters outside on Capitol Hill on Thursday, June 27, 2019. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

'Utterly Shameful': Pelosi Slammed for Boosting Koch-Backed Texas Democrat Over Progressive Challenger Jessica Cisneros

"Nancy Pelosi is backing a 'Democrat' who votes with Trump nearly 70% of the time, has an 'A' rating from the NRA, is anti-choice, and has received tens of thousands of dollars from the Kochs."

Jake Johnson

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stirred outrage Saturday by visiting Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar at his campaign headquarters in Laredo and voicing hope that the Koch-backed, anti-choice Democrat will ride to a "resounding victory" over progressive primary challenger Jessica Cisneros on March 3.

"We want this to be not only a victory, but a resounding victory for Henry Cuellar," Pelosi told dozens of Cuellar campaign workers and supporters. "Every step you take, every door you knock, every call you make, will make that resounding victory possible—and it includes getting out a big Democratic vote prepared to vote again in the general election so that we turn Texas blue."

"We assume that Henry will win, but we don't take anything for granted," Pelosi added. "The word 'assume'—ass of you and me. Assume nothing." Ahead of her visit to Cuellar's campaign office, Pelosi headlined a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has also thrown its weight behind Cuellar in Texas' 28th congressional district.

Justice Democrats, which is supporting Cisneros, sent an email to supporters late Saturday blasting Pelosi's support for Cuellar as "utterly shameful." 

"Nancy Pelosi is backing a 'Democrat' who votes with Trump nearly 70% of the time, has an 'A' rating from the NRA, is anti-choice, and has received tens of thousands of dollars from the Kochs," the group wrote.

Cuellar is the first-ever congressional Democrat to receive reelection support from Americans for Prosperity Action, a super PAC funded by billionaire Charles Koch.

As HuffPost reported, Cuellar's reelection bid is also backed by "large national and Texas corporations and business associations, including the American Bankers Association, Texas Bankers Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Laredo Chamber of Commerce."

By contrast, Cisneros—a 26-year-old immigration and human rights attorney—is running a union-backed campaign fueled by grassroots donors and supported by progressive members of Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Referring to Cuellar and other right-wing Democrats like him, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Saturday that "there are [Democratic] reps in SAFE blue seats who side with the NRA, are anti-LGBT+, and yet are protected because they advance the interests of big donors, Wall St., fossil fuels, etc."

"It's not 'wrong' to take that on and do better," the New York Democrat wrote. "This isn't about swing seats or pushing communities 'too far left.' It's about accountability. Working families deserve so much better. And if we aren't willing to admit where we can do better, then what is the point? Our job is to serve the people, not the powerful."


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