Nov 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Democrats risk losing 100% winning record in Texas' 28th District

Photo illustration of Henry Cuellar tinted blue, and Cassy Garcia, tinted red, divided by a halftone line

Henry Cuellar and Cassy Garcia. Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Bill Clark/Getty Images, Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas' 28th Congressional District, a predominantly border region of South Texas, is at risk this midterms of losing its footing as a Democratic stronghold since its creation in 1993.

What's happening: Republican nominee Cassy Garcia, a former staffer of Sen. Ted Cruz, is seeking to unseat Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has represented the district for 17 years.

Why it matters: The 28th District is considered a battleground for control of the U.S. House, which Republicans have a path to reclaim this election.

  • The GOP's investment in the area shows Republicans are encouraged about a potential shift in Hispanic voters to flip border areas.

The big picture: South Texas' 34th and 15th Districts are also GOP targets, and Republicans have seen gains there.

  • In a June special election, Republican Mayra Flores won over the historically Democratic, heavily-Latino 34th District.
  • South Texas success would mean a win for the GOP in the House and a win with Hispanic voters on issues like border security and abortion.

State of play: Combined, Republicans are outraising Democrats in the three key districts, but Cuellar is maintaining an edge over Garcia, according to the Federal Election Commission.

  • Though a Democrat, Cuellar is considered moderate and crosses the aisle on issues like abortion. Last fall, he was the sole Democrat to vote against a federal bill protecting abortion rights.

Garcia, who's endorsed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, worked for the Trump administration as the commissioner for the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.

  • In a blitz of ads, the Republican nominee says she’s representing farmers, small business owners and border patrol.

The intrigue: In January, the FBI conducted a "court-authorized" search of Cuellar's home and campaign office in Laredo.

  • Details of the search have not been revealed, despite pressure from media outlets.
  • Cuellar's attorney said authorities told him the investigation is tied to the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, but the lawmaker is not a target, the Associated Press reported.

What they're saying:

  • Walter Wilson, a political science professor at University of Texas in San Antonio, told Axios that Cuellar's conservative-leaning stances will make the race unpredictable.
  • Natasha Altema-McNeely, a University of Texas Rio Grande Valley professor, expects the candidates will try to attract undecided voters by emphasizing their positions on issues like gun control and abortion.

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