Cisneros announces second primary challenge to Cuellar for congressional seat

Jessica Cisneros and Roger Ramirez, of the Laredo Immigrant Alliance of Laredo, listen to a speaker during LUPE's town hall on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 in San Juan. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

PALMVIEW — Following a close race in 2020, immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros is once again challenging U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, when he is up for reelection in 2022.

Cisneros announced Thursday that she would run against Cuellar in the Texas Democratic primary race next year which will mark the second time that she will attempt to unseat him.

“I think the last election really left a lot of people with hope even though we did come up just a little bit short,” Cisneros, also from Laredo, said of her decision to run again. “I really wanted to honor all the hard work and effort that people put in last cycle and I think that, much for the very same reasons I ran last cycle, I knew that I needed to step up because my community did ask me to run.”

“Although it was one of the scariest decisions that I made in my life, it really was the honor of a lifetime to be able to build organizing infrastructure here in South Texas,” she said.

During her 2020 campaign, Cisneros garnered national attention and received endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York. She was also backed by the Texas ALF-CIO, the state chapter of one of the largest union federation in the country.

Though she fell short, Cisneros came within four percentage points of Cuellar in the 2020 primary elections.

She received 36,144 votes, or about 48%, while Cuellar received 38,834 votes, or just under 52%.

What will be different this time around is that Cisneros will be the only one challenging Cuellar from the left.

In June, Tannya Benavides — a political newcomer also from Laredo — launched her campaign for the 28th congressional seat.

Laredo native Jessica Cisneros talks with residents at the Roma Community Center on Aug. 11, 2019, in Roma. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Additionally, the results of the 2020 U.S. Census have yet to be implemented so it is still unclear how the boundaries of the congressional districts will change. The district currently stretches along the border from north of Laredo to Western Hidalgo County and northward to the San Antonio area.

“I think that with the experience from the last campaign, we’re going to be able to, as soon as we figure out what the maps are going to look like, execute our strategy and that’s what we’re going to focus on,” Cisneros said. “Right now, it’s just a matter of preparing for when that moment comes and then immediately put go on the plan as soon as we figure out what the boundaries of our district are going to be.”

[email protected]