January 22, 2021

The Politicus

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TX-28: Texas AFL-CIO Endorses Progressive Jessica Cisneros (D) Over Blue Dog Henry Cuellar (D)

Some big news out of Texas:


The Texas chapter of a major union federation has endorsed a Democratic primary challenger to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), a top target for progressives in 2020.

Cuellar's main primary challenger, Jessica Cisneros, announced support from the Texas AFL-CIO on Sunday in a video with the union chapter's president, Rick Levy.

“The 240,000 members of the Texas AFL-CIO stated that we are going to stand proudly with Jessica Cisneros in her race for Congress,” Levy said.

Cisneros has also been endorsed by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D. MA), Democracy for America, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Justice Democrats. Meanwhile, Cuellar is depending on dark money to bail him out:

 Just weeks before voting starts in what is expected to be U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s toughest re-election fight in years, a dark money group is flooding his South Texas district with ads supporting him.

The nonprofit American Workers for Progress has poured more than $720,000 into ads in Austin, San Antonio, Laredo, McAllen, Brownsville and Harlingen, according to Advertising Analytics, a private firm that tracks political advertising.

Little is known about the newly formed group. A longtime Democratic operative listed as its president declined to comment. Cuellar's campaign spokesman says he knows nothing about the group, as does the state Democratic party.

Nonetheless, the heavy spending is a sign of how nervous some in Cuellar's orbit are that Jessica Cisneros, a 26-year-old immigration attorney from Laredo who has become a star in progressive circles, could end his 15-year stint in Congress.

The race will provide an early indication in 2020 of the electability of several progressive hopefuls in Texas. They argue that a key to turning the state blue will be reaching voters who have not made a habit of voting in the past, especially young and minority voters, who they believe can be energized by an unflinching progressive message.

Cisneros has raised nearly $1 million in her insurgent effort to take down Cuellar — an impressive haul for a political newcomer in a district long considered safe — and she’s drawn major endorsements from progressive groups, including Justice Democrats, the group that helped U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeat a longtime incumbent in New York.

Let’s replace a Blue Dog with a real Progressive. Click here to donate to Cisneros’ campaign.