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Progressive congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros speaks at an event

Democratic U.S. congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros speaks on March 1, 2022 in Laredo, Texas. (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Cisneros Calls on Democratic Leaders to End Support for Cuellar Over Anti-Abortion Stance

"At every turn, my congressman has stood in opposition to the Democratic Party agenda from being anti-union to being anti-choice," said the progressive U.S. House candidate.

Jake Johnson

Progressive congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros urged the House Democratic leadership on Wednesday to withdraw its support for incumbent Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar over his continued opposition to abortion rights as the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority appears set to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"I hope Democratic Party leadership won't stand in the way of delivering for South Texans."

Cisneros, who forced a May 24 runoff with Cuellar in the Democratic primary for Texas' 28th Congressional District earlier this year, said in a statement that the nine-term incumbent "is the last anti-choice Democrat in the House."

In September, just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas' abortion ban to take effect, Cuellar was the only House Democrat to vote against passage of the Women's Health Protection Act, legislation that would codify the right to abortion care into federal law.

"At every turn, my congressman has stood in opposition to the Democratic Party agenda from being anti-union to being anti-choice," said Cisneros. "With the House majority on the line, he could very much be the deciding vote on the future of our reproductive rights and we cannot afford to take that risk."

"On May 24th, we will defeat the last anti-choice Democrat and South Texas will finally have a representative in their corner that will fight for their healthcare and freedom," she continued. "I hope Democratic Party leadership won't stand in the way of delivering for South Texans. I am ready to work with them to deliver on the democratic agenda."

Despite Cuellar's right-wing record on abortion, unions, and immigration as well as recent news that his home and campaign office were raided by the FBI, the top three Democrats in the House—Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)—have stood by the Texas incumbent and endorsed his reelection campaign.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Clyburn is expected to attend a get-out-the-vote rally for Cuellar in San Antonio. A spokesperson for Clyburn told VICE that the Democratic leader "is still planning to be with Cuellar" following the leak of a Supreme Court opinion Monday night signaling that the majority is poised to end Roe, a decision that would strike a devastating blow to abortion rights and much more.

In a statement responding to the leak, Cuellar said Tuesday that "as a Catholic, I do not support abortion, however, we cannot have an outright ban."

"There must be exceptions in the case of rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother," Cuellar added.

On top of receiving the endorsements of top House Democrats, Cuellar is also benefiting from the work of political vendors approved by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the campaign arm of House Democrats.

"Financial disclosures indicate that three DCCC-approved political firms—AL Media, Impact Research (formerly Anzalone Liszt Group), and Baughman Company/BaughmanMerrill—are actively working to re-elect Cuellar," The American Prospect's Jarod Facundo reported Wednesday. "AL Media placed $786,756 in advertising for Cuellar in January and February of this year. Baughman received $188,575 from the Cuellar campaign from November 2021 to February 2022 for a mail program. Impact Research/Anzalone Liszt received $18,400 for research last November."

As the Democratic establishment looks to pull Cuellar over the finish line yet again, progressive advocacy groups and lawmakers including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) are supporting Cisneros' grassroots campaign.

"In 20 days, we have an opportunity to oust the last anti-choice Democrat from the U.S. House of Representatives," Ocasio-Cortez's campaign team wrote in a fundraising email in support of the Cisneros campaign on Wednesday. "Jessica Cisneros is running against Henry Cuellar in TX-28, a 'Democrat' that prior to being challenged by Jessica, voted almost 70% of the time with Donald Trump."

"In a time when reproductive rights are being severely attacked in our nation, we need to take decisive action and show what we stand for," the email continued.

Cisneros, an immigration and human rights attorney, fell just short of unseating Cuellar in her first primary attempt in 2020.

"Henry Cuellar was the only Democrat to vote with Republicans against codifying Roe," Cisneros tweeted Tuesday. "I'll always stand for our healthcare and the right to choose."

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