District 28 congressional race shows political landscape changing in South Texas

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LAREDO – A newcomer to the political arena is showing the South Texas political landscape could be changing, despite falling short in her bid to unseat a Valley veteran politician.

The results for the Congressional District 28 race will show incumbent Henry Cuellar won the Democratic primary by a margin of about 2,756 votes. He won his home county in Webb, but challenger Jessica Cisneros took Bexar and Hidalgo counties.

In a conciliatory mood Wednesday morning, Jessica Cisneros considered the momentum gained by her campaign. She said, "We exceeded all expectations for a primary challenger to an incumbent. We forced him to spend over $2 million of his war chest and to work for his job. And we moved him on a number of issues from impeachment to the minimum wage."

The race drew national attention when a newcomer, progressive democrat offered South Texans a choice opposite a consistent bipartisan politico.

Cuellar returned to Washington, D.C. after his win feeling validated as a centrist. He said, "[Voters] want us to be a big tent party where moderates are also welcome."

The narrow win is interpreted differently by each party. Cisneros hopes Cuellar is mindful of nearly half of the Democratic voters who wanted him out. She said, "I think that if anything what he should have gotten from last night's results is that there's so many people that agree with the vision that this campaign has, and I'm hoping that he's willing to outreach to those folks and listen to us.”

Cuellar emphasizes his efforts to listen to everyone.

"I will do my best to balance the interest of the progressives and the moderates. I will do my best to balance the needs of the democrats, republicans and independents, because as a Congressman I represent everybody in my district no matter what their ideology is. But if anybody feels, and this is what this outside group, they wanted me to be 100% with the progressives. I cannot do that," Cuellar said.

The congressman said other moderates congratulated him on his win believing it tempered the momentum building against them as a group.

Cisneros is looking ahead. "As a 26-year-old political newcomer, I think this is also a beginning for myself, too."

She said she'll be watching to see if Cuellar listens to her voters and doesn't outright rule out another future run for office.

Cuellar will now head into the November elections where Republican Sandra Whitten and Libertarian Bekah Congdon will join him on the ballot.


KGNS contributed to an interview for this report.


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