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Rep. Henry Cuellar speaks during a news conference

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 30, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

AOC Endorses Cisneros Primary Challenge Against Cuellar

"Cuellar, the last anti-choice 'Democrat' in the House," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, "had a 70% voting record of siding with Donald Trump."

Jake Johnson

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday endorsed Jessica Cisneros' campaign to oust Rep. Henry Cuellar, a right-wing Democrat whose Texas home and office were raided this week as part of a sweeping federal investigation related to Azerbaijan and U.S. businessmen.

In an email, Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) team pointed to reporting that "the Department of Justice's Public Integrity unit is involved with the investigation—a unit that handles cases involving elected officials including campaign finance and corruption cases."

"We don't know what this investigation may mean for this race, but we do know that Cuellar's campaign still has $2.3 million in the bank," the New York Democrat's campaign noted. "If we can't close the gap, Jessica could be outspent dramatically."

Ocasio-Cortez's endorsement of Cisneros—an immigration attorney and an outspoken supporter of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal—comes less than two months out from the Democratic primary in Texas' 28th Congressional District, a rematch of the 2020 contest that Cuellar narrowly won with the help of copious dark money and a boost from the Democratic establishment.

"Cuellar, the last anti-choice 'Democrat' in the House... had a 70% voting record of siding with Donald Trump" before Cisneros challenged him in 2020, Ocasio-Cortez's campaign team noted Thursday. "Last cycle, Jessica was massively outspent, but only lost by about 2,700 votes—a gap that can easily be closed with your support. We have a real opportunity to expand progressive leadership in Congress by electing Jessica this year."

According to ABC News, the FBI's search of Cuellar's home in Laredo, Texas as well as his campaign office was carried out Wednesday "as part of a wide-ranging federal probe relating to the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan and several U.S. businessmen."

"A federal grand jury in Washington is investigating the matter, but it's unclear if Cuellar is a target of the grand jury's probe," ABC reported.

News of the investigation—with which Cuellar has vowed to fully cooperate—drew fresh attention to the upcoming Texas primary contest and to Cisneros' progressive campaign.

"Been getting a lot of new followers tonight!" Cisneros tweeted following reports of the FBI raid.

Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, wrote on social media Thursday that "Rep. Cuellar is entitled to a presumption of innocence of any wrongdoing."

"But the working families of TX-28 who need a champion in Congress," he added, "can't risk losing a Democratic seat because the incumbent is under a cloud of suspicion."

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