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Jessica Cisneros

Democratic U.S. congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros concludes a speech alongside her family during a watch party on March 1, 2022 in Laredo, Texas. (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

'The Fight Goes On': Cisneros Supporters Prepare for Runoff

"Young people have never felt more excited to elect a Green New Deal champion, especially when it means kicking out a corrupt, anti-choice, corporate Democrat," said head of the Sunrise Movement.

Jessica Corbett

"It's clear that voters are tired of corporate-backed politicians like Henry Cuellar who don't work for them."

"We'll be focused on talking to South Texas voters about how Jessica is going to fight for healthcare for all, create good-paying union jobs, and a humane immigration system."

That's what Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of the Indivisible Project, said Wednesday after Jessica Cisneros forced a runoff election in Texas' 28th Congressional District. This is the second primary cycle in which Cisneros, a progressive, has challenged Cuellar, an anti-choice Democrat.

"They're excited for a new generation of progressive leaders who put people first," Greenberg said of voters. "Last cycle, Cuellar won this nomination outright, but now he is headed toward his first-ever runoff. The groundswell of support for Cisneros has him in the fight for his political life."

"Over the next three months, Rep. Cuellar will be mired in an FBI investigation and focused on defending his corporate backers," she continued. "We'll be focused on talking to South Texas voters about how Jessica is going to fight for healthcare for all, create good-paying union jobs, and a humane immigration system."

Greenberg added that "Indivisibles are ready to do the work to finally send Cuellar packing and show that even the most entrenched politicians and their wealthy donors are no match for people power organizing for progressive change."

The Sunrise Movement, which also endorsed Cisneros, was similarly determined after Tuesday's results.

"This election pit people power against corporate money, and today we are one step closer to victory because young people mobilized. We already made nearly one million voter contact attempts in this district, and this has reinvigorated our movement. We're just getting started," said Varshini Prakash, Sunrise's executive director, in a statement.

"Young people have never felt more excited to elect a Green New Deal champion, especially when it means kicking out a corrupt, anti-choice, corporate Democrat who just last year blocked the package of Build Back Better," Prakash declared. "To the other corporate Democrats like Henry Cuellar, who continued to take fossil fuel money despite the ever-worsening, deeply felt climate crisis in Texas, just know that when you sell out your community to oil and gas executives, we'll come for you."

Calling the youth-led movement "a force to be reckoned with," Cisneros said Wednesday that she was inspired by the members' "persistent, fearless organizing" and vowed that she is "ready to fight with Sunrise in Congress for a Green New Deal."

"This fight was about South Texans proving that our dreams could take on their corporate money and that a daughter of immigrants could bring working-class leadership back to the community that raised her," the candidate said of Tuesday's primary race.

"Today, we proved just how powerful our movement is and are ready to keep fighting for the future we deserve," she added. " Together, we will take control back from Big Oil, private prisons, and Wall Street, and put it back where it belongs: with the people."

Cisneros echoed that message in an email sent out Wednesday by the campaign of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), one of several powerful progressives to endorse the Texan.

Ocasio-Cortez even traveled to Texas last month to rally with Cisneros and Greg Casar, who on Tuesday won the Democratic primary for the state's newly created 35th District.

While race-watchers have called the Cuellar-Cisneros runoff, with no candidates expected to cross the 50% threshold, votes were still being counted as of press time. According to The New York Times, Cuellar led with 48.4%, compared to Cisneros at 46.9% and Tannya Benavides at 4.7%.

The election is scheduled for May 24. Cisneros told reporters in Texas that "on May 24, when I turn 29 years old, I expect to be the Democratic nominee for this district."

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