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Jessica Cisneros, a candidate for Texas 28th Congressional District,

Jessica Cisneros, a candidate for Texas 28th Congressional District, is interviewed by CQ-Roll Call at their D.C. office on October 22, 2019. (Photo: Thomas McKinless/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images).

Sunrise Endorses Cisneros Over Corporate-Backed Cuellar in Texas Democratic Primary Fight

"She understands the crises we face, and she is ready to take power from corporate Democrats like Cuellar and give it back to her community."

Andrea Germanos

The Sunrise Movement announced Thursday its endorsement of progressive Jessica Cisneros in her primary challenge to oust Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar and represent Texas' 28th Congressional District.

"She knows that it takes bold solutions to solve the crises we face."

Human rights and immigration attorney Cisneros in August launched her campaign to primary Cuellar for a second time after she narrowly lost to the establishment-backed incumbent in the 2020 primary election, though newly redrawn maps mean the district now has different boundaries.

Cuellar, who's represented the South Texas district since 2005, has a 47% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, has been described by the Texas AFL-CIO as "not on working people's side," and was recently criticized by NARAL Pro-Choice America for being "the last anti-choice Democrat in the House.",

The contrast between the two Democrats, Sunrise executive director Varshini Prakash said in a statement, is stark.

"As Texans froze to death during the Texas Freeze last winter, Henry Cuellar spent his winter cozying up to the people responsible for the climate disaster: fossil fuel corporations, while he left communities to fend for themselves," said Prakash, whereas "Cisneros fought for her community through that freeze."

"She understands the crises we face," Prakash added, "and she is ready to take power from corporate Democrats like Cuellar and give it back to her community."

Prakash said her group is "excited to endorse and put the power of our movement behind Cisneros because she knows that it takes bold solutions to solve the crises we face—that means passing a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, fighting for a pathway to citizenship, and more."

The declaration of support for Cisneros—the Sunrise Movement's first House endorsement of the 2022 campaign cycle—followed previous endorsements Cisneros received from progressive groups including Indivisible, NARAL, and Working Families Party.

In an email to supporters Thursday, Justice Democrats called Sunrise's endorsement a sign of growing momentum in a "fight against corporate Democrat Henry Cuellar," who "has received more than $800,000 from the fossil fuel industry. He's one the most conservative Democrats in the House, especially when it comes to climate change. We need to elect Jessica and defeat him."

"The Democratic Party isn't taking the bold action we need to solve the climate crisis," the group wrote. "The answer is right there in front of us: a Green New Deal. But lawmakers like Henry Cuellar and the rest of the corporate Democrats are holding us back. Cuellar doesn't even want to take incremental steps on climate. That's how bad he is."

Cisneros, for her part, also criticized the campaign cash Cuellar has received from oil and gas interests and accused him of "consistently support[ing] policies that roll back protections that keep our water drinkable, our air breathable, and our communities safe from environmental threats."

In her statement vowing to "fight for our families like our lives and planet depend on it" and welcoming Sunrise's endoresment, Cisneros added: "I know that our future depends on bold leaders and organizers who will step up to meet the moment and protect our planet, so I'm honored that they're joining us to finish what we started together."

The primary is scheduled for March 1, 2022.

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