A pro-life Democrat has been declared the winner of a primary that pitted Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas against a progressive candidate backed by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
Cuellar was leading challenger Jessica Cisneros by 177 votes when the polls closed after the May 24 primary, according to Fox News. Although Cisneros declared victory, a recount was conducted.
The final margin of victory, when the Democratic Party’s recount committee was done, was 289 votes.
Cisneros, who was backed by the Justice Democrats and Ocasio-Cortez, blamed the influence of outsiders for her loss.
“We always knew this was an uphill battle,” Cisneros said in a statement, according to Fox.
The statement claimed “a corrupt political machine, Republican-funded Super PACs, the Koch brothers, private prisons, Big Oil, the Chamber of Commerce, dark money groups, Big Pharma, and nearly the entire Democratic Party establishment in Washington” all worked against her.
“We still refused to back down,” Cisneros said, according to The Washington Post. “With this close of a margin, it’s clear that without their aggressive interference in the lives of South Texas families, we would have won.”
The victory exposed the fault lines between progressive and moderate Democrats.
“Democratic leadership trampled over their own stated principles to carry Henry Cuellar to victory,” Natalia Salgado, the progressive Working Families Party’s director of federal affairs, said in a statement, according to CNN.
“The party establishment would rather protect one of their own than deliver results for Democratic voters and South Texas families,” Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, said in a statement, according to The New York Times. “It’s disgraceful and I am deeply worried about November.”
Cuellar is a rare pro-life Democrat and also an outspoken critic of President Joe Biden’s border policies.
“As I said on election night, ‘the margin will hold’ — and it has not only held but grown,” Cuellar said in a statement Tuesday, according to Fox.
Cuellar thanked “election workers who sacrificed their time to once again confirm the voices of every voter across the 28th district were heard,” according to Fox.
“To those who did not vote for me, as your congressman I will continue to work diligently for you in Washington. While we may differ on certain positions, we share a common ground on many issues to improve our communities and strengthen families,” Cuellar said.
Cisneros, who lost a primary to Cuellar in 2020, said she will keep trying to turn the Democratic Party to the left.
“We’re going to keep fighting to create a more progressive and accountable Democratic Party this year and work to turn Texas blue in November,” Cisneros said, according to Fox.
Cuellar faces Republican Cassy Garcia in November.