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Election 2022: Henry Cuellar battles to re-election victory over Cassy Garcia

After a contentious primary, Cuellar went up against Republican Cassy Garcia and is on the path for victory.

SAN ANTONIO — Democrat Henry Cuellar continues to hold a statewide edge over Republican Cassy Garcia in the campaign for Congressional District 28, and is now projected by the Associated Press to win. 

With 50% of Texas polling locations reporting Tuesday night, the incumbent was leading by 15 percentage points. He was also on pace to win the Bexar County vote, collecting 58% of the vote with 76% of polling sites reporting. 

Results for Cuellar and Garcia will continue tabulating below as ballots are counted. 

Shortly before midnight on Tuesday, Garcia took to social media to concede the race. 

Cuellar overcame  much en route to re-election, including a January FBI raid at his Laredo home and renewed scrutiny over his position as an abortion-opposing Democrat in light of Roe v. Wade being overturned in June. He also needed to endure a prolonged primary runoff battle that needed a recount to confirm his win over upstart progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros.

Who is Henry Cuellar?

Cuellar’s status as one of the few remaining “moderate” Democrats may also be paying dividends for his fundraising, as he took in almost $4.9 million as of the end of June, smashing his usual pace for previous years. At that point in his last race against Republican Sandra Whitten, he had raised $2.4 million. In 2018, he had raised just $1.3 million. The next fundraising disclosure deadline is Oct. 15.

Due to redistricting, however, this is one of the most competitive general election races the longtime congressman has had in years, boosting the need for stronger fundraising.

“He is now pretty much alone as a conservative Democrat in the house,” said David Wasserman, one of the nation’s top election forecasters at Cook Political Report. “His campaign committee is a safe place for corporate PACs to donate to prove they are bipartisan without being antithetical to their views.”

Cuellar characterizes his position on abortion access as moderate, saying abortion should be “rare, legal and safe.”

But he was the lone Democrat in the House to vote against the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 in July, which aimed to preserve access to abortion care at the federal level. That bill never advanced in the Senate.

While opposing abortion, Cuellar has been critical of Texas’ law passed last year that restricted abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. He was especially critical of the law’s enforcement mechanism that encouraged and rewarded regular citizens to enforce the law through civil litigation. After Texas banned nearly all abortions after Roe v. Wade was overturned, he voted in support of a bill that would protect the right for a woman to cross state borders to seek the procedure where it’s still legal.

Who is Cassy Garcia?

Republicans don’t think Cuellar is conservative enough, and they are throwing millions of dollars behind Garcia, who says she truly embodies the values of the South Texas district. According to the bio on her campaign website, she led the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative under former President Donald Trump. 

“The reason why I am running for Congress is to defend faith, family and freedom,” Garcia said on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show in July. “The current incumbent Henry Cuellar, who says all the right things, has done absolutely nothing to secure our southern border.”

House Republican leadership will spend around $4 million on Garcia this cycle. Her campaign raised over $1.1 million in the third quarter of the year alone, it announced this week.

A graduate of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Garcia also worked as a liaison for the Texas agriculture commissioner. 

About the district

Congressional District 28 boasted about 760,000 residents in 2020, and a median household income of just under 52,000. It includes regions of far-east and far-southeast San Antonio, as well as communities to the south and back west toward Nuevo Laredo. 

About 80% of the district identifies as Hispanic, with 70% of those residents owning a home. 

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