WASHINGTON -- After neither candidate passed the threshold necessary to avoid one in Tuesday’s Texas Democratic primary election, WASHINGTON's high-profile rematch between progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros or Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar will be heading to a runoff.
Texas law requires that candidates must win at least 50 percent in a primary election to be eligible for the nomination. A lesser-known third candidate won enough votes to ensure that both major candidates were not below 50 percent in the neck and neck contest. This forced them into a May 24-runoff election.
The ideologically charged contest pitted Cisneros (a 28-year old lawyer supported by national progressives) against Cuellar (a 66 year-old moderate who served 18 years in Congress but was subject to controversy following a recent FBI raid at his home and campaign office.
Cisneros was within 2,700 votes to defeat Cuellar 2020. This year, Cisneros returned with more name recognition and established support from progressive groups and leaders in national.
Labor unions and liberal groups such as Planned Parenthood or EMILY's List which are not often up against incumbent legislators, decided to support Cuellar in an effort to oust one remaining anti-abortion Democrats in Congress.
Both wings of Democratic Party have closely watched the primary in Texas' 28th Congressional District to get clues about their party's state.
Cuellar broke with Democrats many times, but said that he did so to represent his district in South Texas. This sprawling, politically divided area of land is mostly rural and runs from San Antonio to the Mexican border.
Cisneros Allies, like the progressive Working Families Party, billed the race a "David or Goliath Battle," with the oil industry and corporate "anti-worker", aligning themselves behind the incumbent they called "Trump’s favorite Democrat."
tweeted Ilyse Hyogue, who was a big Cisneros supporter and former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. The runoff is the winner. Time to double down,"
Moderate Democrats however dismissed the notion that the outcome was a bellwether. They said that Cuellar's biggest problem was the FBI raid. This is an unusual and nonideological event.
In January , the FBI raided Cuellar's house and campaign office in an investigation into U.S. businessmen’s ties with Azerbaijan. Cuellar has not confirmed that he is a target of this investigation. However, the investigation raised doubts about the legitimacy of Cuellar's long-standing position as a lawmaker.
"The moderate New Democrat Coalition currently has 97 House members, while 'the squad has six." "The squad might match the New Dems numbers in 45 years if they continue to add 2 to 4 per cycle," Matt Bennett, executive vice president of public affairs at Third Way, said.
However, no matter what happens in Texas' runoff, the progressives won't be leaving Texas without a fight.
According to NBC News projections, Greg Casar, a member on the Austin City Council, won his primary contest for Congress in Texas' 35th district.
Jasmine Crockett is the most liberal member in Texas' state House and she is well placed to win her party’s nomination for a Houston-based office. Crockett was unable to cross the threshold of 50 percent due to a crowded field, but she was well ahead of all the other candidates.