May 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Democratic congressional runoff in Texas heats up over abortion

U.S. House candidate Jessica Cisneros of south Texas speaks in front of a microphone in March 2022

Democratic U.S. congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros in Laredo, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The south Texas progressive challenging U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar in a hotly contested Democratic runoff called on party leaders Wednesday to withdraw their support for him over his anti-abortion rights stance.

Driving the news: Jessica Cisneros, who is up against Cuellar in a May 24 runoff election for the Democratic nomination for his seat, said in a video that Cuellar "has stood in opposition to the Democratic party agenda," including with his views on abortion.

  • The video comes two days after the bombshell revelation that the Supreme Court will likely overturn Roe v. Wade.

The intrigue: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in March reaffirmed her support for Cuellar when asked about her stance after the FBI raided his home earlier this year. It's unclear what the FBI is investigating and Cueller has denied any wrongdoing.

  • Pelosi has also been a vocal proponent of abortion rights and criticized the Supreme Court over the leaked draft ruling.
  • Democrats hope to seize on the fallout over abortion protections to rally their base and increase their odds of keeping the House majority in this year's midterm elections.

What they're saying: "As a lifelong Catholic, I have always been pro-life. As a Catholic, I do not support abortion, however, we cannot have an outright ban," Cuellar said in a statement after the Supreme Court leak.

  • "There must be exceptions in the case of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother," he added.

Cisneros, 28, said Cuellar could stand in the way of reproductive rights.

  • "With the House majority on the line, Cuellar could very much be the deciding vote on the future of reproductive rights in this country, and we just cannot afford that risk," Cisneros said.

Spokespersons for Pelosi and Cuellar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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