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Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to rally for Jessica Cisneros

Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to join a get-out-the-vote rally for progressive U.S. House candidate Jessica Cisneros on May 20, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo: Bernie Sanders/Twitter)

'She Can Win If We Stand With Her': Sanders to Rally for Cisneros in Texas

"Her opponent, one of the very few anti-choice Democrats in Congress, is funded by over a million dollars in corporate contributions from Big Oil companies," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to rally for U.S. House candidate Jessica Cisneros on Friday as she vies to unseat Rep. Henry Cuellar, a nine-term Democrat whose opposition to abortion rights, labor legislation, and climate action has made him a top primary target for progressives.

In a social media post promoting the get-out-the-vote event, Sanders wrote that Tuesday's runoff contest is crucial because Cisneros, an outspoken supporter of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, "is offering a bold agenda that speaks to the needs of Texas' 28th District."

The Vermont senator also noted that "her opponent, one of the very few anti-choice Democrats in Congress, is funded by over a million dollars in corporate contributions from Big Oil companies."

"She can win if we stand with her," Sanders said of Cisneros, a 28-year-old human rights attorney who fell just short of ousting Cuellar in 2020 and forced a runoff in the first round of primary voting in March.

The rally in San Antonio will come on the final day of early voting in Texas' 28th Congressional District, where progressives hope to build on primary victories in Pennsylvania and other states earlier this week.

"South Texas, let's make history and show them that when you have people power, anything is possible," Cisneros tweeted Thursday.

Cuellar's opposition to abortion rights was returned to the spotlight earlier this month following the leak of a draft opinion indicating that the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, a longstanding goal of the conservative movement.

Last year, Cuellar was the only House Democrat to vote against codifying the right to abortion care into federal law. In response to the draft opinion leak, the Texas Democrat reiterated his opposition to abortion but said "there must be exceptions in the case of rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother."

Cuellar's anti-abortion stance, his vote against pro-labor legislation, and his rejection of bold climate action—a reason he's been labeled "Big Oil's Favorite Democrat"—have not been enough to lose the support of the House Democratic leadership.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) have endorsed Cuellar's re-election bid, raised funds for his campaign, and rallied on his behalf in the final stretch of the runoff race.

Cuellar's campaign has also benefited from massive outside spending by the United Democracy Project (UDP), a super PAC recently launched by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The super PAC's biggest funder is billionaire Haim Saban.

UDP, which has intervened against progressive candidates in a number of Democratic primary contests across the U.S., has spent more than $1.4 million against Cisneros and nearly $390,000 in support of Cuellar's campaign. The fossil fuel industry has also dumped money into Cuellar's coffers in the hopes of protecting its ally's seat.

In his video message ahead of Friday's rally in San Antonio, Sanders said he is "sick and tired of the many millions of dollars in super PAC money that is going against progressives like Jessica."

"What we're seeing," the senator continued, "is billionaires in this country who couldn't care less about working families just pouring huge amounts of money into campaigns to make sure that we do not have members of Congress who are going to fight for economic and racial and social and environmental justice."

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