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Election 2022: Cuellar narrowly ahead of Cisneros with all primary runoff election night ballots counted

Fewer than 200 votes separate the two candidates in a race that has gained renewed attention in the national conversation over reproductive rights.

SAN ANTONIO — Longtime U.S. House Rep. Henry Cuellar and upstart progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros' battle for the Democratic nomination in the District 28 race came down to a narrow margin in Tuesday's primary runoff election. 

Fewer than 200 votes separated the two candidates out of more than 45,000 ballots cast, with Cuellar collecting 50.2% of the vote. Cisneros ran away with the Bexar County vote, while Cuellar performed much better in the counties around Laredo.

That slim margin was enough for Cuellar to declare victory Tuesday night. He shared a statement online, calling the primary a "hard-fought battle." Cisneros, for her part, tweeted that that fight isn't over. 

The matchup comes after the duo's close finish in the March primary. Cuellar and Cisneros collected 48.4% and 46.9% of the vote, respectively. Both were held back from reaching the threshold to win outright by third candidate Tannya Benavides. 

The winner Tuesday will go on to face the victor of the head-to-head matchup between Cassy Garcia and Sandra Whitten, who are battling it out on the Republican side of the primary runoff.

The race was among the most heated in Texas’ first-in-the-nation primary. Cuellar is among the most conservative Democrats in Congress, and a Cisneros victory would bring a seismic liberal shift to the district that runs from San Antonio to the Texas border.

Cisneros is a former intern of Cuellar’s who also ran against him in 2020. She narrowly lost, and this time ran a more aggressive campaign that attacked Cuellar over FBI agents searching his home just before voting began.

In addition, the weeks since the March election have seen renewed fervor over reproductive rights in the U.S., following the leak of a draft opinion indicating the Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade sometime this summer. Cuellar is regarded as the only anti-abortion Democrat in the U.S. House, while Cisneros has doubled down on her stance that "abortion is healthcare and reproductive freedom is a fundamental human right."

About the race

Texas' 28th District stretches from San Antonio down to Laredo and will feature another contest by candidates representing different aspects of the Democratic Party.

This year's primary featured a rematch of the 2020 primary. In 2020, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX 28), who was backed by U.S. House Leadership, defeated Jessica Cisneros, who was backed by progressive members of Congress and political action committees. 

Election Day for the Texas primary is Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Click here for a sample ballot and list of polling locations.

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