LAREDO, Texas ― The closely watched Democratic primary race in Texas’ 28th Congressional District is headed for a runoff after the top two contenders — incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar and immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros — failed to win an outright majority in the voting that concluded on Tuesday.
Texas requires primary candidates who fall short of a majority to proceed to a runoff contest between the top two. Cuellar and Cisneros are now due to face off again on May 24.
“In a runoff, you will see a lot more money pouring into this race and a sharpening of the lines of conflict that we’ve already seen,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, Austin. “It’s only going to increase the attention to this race as a bellwether for a fight between the two extreme ends of the Democratic Party.”
In 2020, Cuellar defeated Cisneros by 3.6 percentage points, obtaining a majority of the vote. This year, the presence of a third candidate on the ballot, Tannya Benavides, prevented Cuellar and Cisneros from exceeding 50% of the vote.
Cuellar, a nine-term incumbent nicknamed the “King of Laredo,” is one of Congress’s last remaining Democratic opponents of abortion rights and expanded union rights.
Cisneros, a proponent of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, would, by contrast, be among the chamber’s most progressive lawmakers.