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After a recount, Cuellar edges Cisneros in a closely watched Texas Democratic primary

Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, left, and progressive candidate Jessica Cisneros.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images; Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, left, and progressive candidate Jessica Cisneros.

A closely watched runoff election in South Texas between incumbent Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar and progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros remained too close to call as of Wednesday morning, according to The Associated Press.

As of 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, just 175 votes separated the two candidates.

The race in Texas' 28th Congressional District pitted one of the most conservative Democrats in the House against a challenger backed by progressive stalwarts, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, after neither Cuellar nor Cisneros received more than 50% of the vote in the March primary.

Cuellar, who has held the seat since 2005, had the endorsements of top House Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.

This wasn't the first time Cisneros, a 29-year-old immigration attorney, took on Cuellar, 66; she first did so in 2020, heavily outraising the longtime Laredo congressman before falling short.

Cisneros ran on a distinctly progressive platform, with support for Medicare for All and pro-labor legislation.

Cuellar, who holds more conservative views on abortion, immigration and gun control, painted Cisneros as a far-left candidate who wouldn't be effective in Congress.

Roughly two months before the March primary, the FBI raided Cuellar's campaign office and home in a probe, reportedly stemming from an investigation into U.S. businessmen and their ties to Azerbaijan. Cuellar's attorney told Fox News he was not a target of the investigation, but the raids provided Cisneros with attack ad fodder.

On the Republican side, Cassy Garcia, a former staffer for Sen. Ted Cruz, won Tuesday's runoff. The GOP has its sights set on flipping the competitive district in the South Texas region that's been trending more Republicans' way.

Role of abortion rights in election

The issue of abortion rights played a large role in the campaign, with increased momentum after a leaked draft opinion of a Supreme Court decision indicated the high court may overturn Roe v. Wade. Cisneros pushed to keep abortion rights front and center in the campaign, as Cuellar is the only self-identified "pro-life" Democrat in the House.

"There's so many key issues where she's always siding with Republicans, and he could become the Joe Manchin of the House," she told NBC's Meet The Press. "We don't want Henry Cuellar to be the deciding vote on the future of our fundamental freedoms and rights in this country."

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Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.