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Jessica Cisneros

Progressive U.S. House candidate Jessica Cisneros speaks during a "Get Out the Vote" rally on February 12, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

'She Will Fight for the Working Class': Sanders Endorses Cisneros

"She will fight for the working class in Congress and together we will build a movement to transform this nation so that it works for all our people," said the Vermont senator.

Julia Conley

"I am honored to have the support of Bernie Sanders in this grassroots campaign to deliver for working families."

As early voting began in Texas Monday ahead of the Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders added his voice to calls from progressives in support of Jessica Cisneros, the human rights and immigration attorney running for a second time to unseat right-wing Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar.

"Jessica knows that real change comes from the bottom on up, not the top on down," the Vermont Independent senator said in a statement. "She will fight for the working class in Congress and together we will build a movement to transform this nation so that it works for all our people."

Sanders' endorsement follows that of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who traveled to Texas over the weekend to speak at a Get Out the Vote rally in support of both Cisneros and Greg Casar, who is running in the newly-created 35th Congressional District.

In 2020, Cisneros narrowly lost to Cuellar, who has represented the state's 28th district in south Texas—covering an area that stretches from the outskirts of San Antonio to the border city of Laredo—since 2005.

Though Cuellar had outspent her by $700,000, Cisneros came within three percentage points of unseating the congressman, who has maintained support from Democratic Party leaders despite being anti-choice and voting in favor of several proposals pushed by former Republican President Donald Trump.

Like Sanders, Cisneros is a proponent of broadly popular policy proposals including Medicare for All, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, and a Green New Deal to create millions of jobs while pushing forward a shift away from planet-heating fossil fuel energy in the United States.

"I am honored to have the support of Bernie Sanders in this grassroots campaign to deliver for working families," Cisneros said Monday. "We're taking on Cuellar's Republican corporate backers with a positive vision for South Texas which includes delivering on Medicare for All, reproductive freedom, and good-paying union jobs."

Cuellar has counted fossil fuel giants like Chevron among his donors, as well as the right-wing Koch family.

Cisneros noted on Monday that some of her opponent's backers, like the group Better Jobs Together, have been withdrawing their public support for the nine-term lawmaker.

Days after the FBI raided Cuellar's home last month, reportedly in a probe related to his ties to companies in Azerbaijan, the San Antonio Express-News editorial board endorsed Cisneros—a "remarkable reversal" of the board's position in 2020, wrote Texas Monthly. The newspaper said its endorsement of Cisneros was planned even before the raid.

Sanders' call for Texans to support Cisneros on Monday also followed other endorsements from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Sunrise Movement, the Texas AFL-CIO, the Texas Service Employees International Union, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

As the senator announced his support, the Sunrise Movement revealed its campaigners had passed 200,000 dials in the group's phone-banking campaign for Cisneros. Sunrise Movement plans to make more than 100,000 additional calls by the time voting ends on March 1.

"We're seeing what we've already known: young people mobilize for Green New Deal champions," said Paris Moran, digital director for the organization. "This election is about sending one of our own to the halls of power, to fight greed and corruption with compassion and community—and we're betting that the grassroots support Jessica is receiving is enough to win."

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