Decoding | The “last” anti-abortion Democrat

(New York) Texas Representative Henry Cuellar is an exception within the House Democratic group: he opposes the right to abortion.

Posted at 5:00 am

Richard Hito

Richard Hito
special cooperation

As such, the 66-year-old elected official should not necessarily expect to win the support of his party leaders in the Democratic primaries opposing Jessica Cisneros, a young 28-year-old lawyer who has been a fierce advocate of this right recognized since 1973 in the states United States of America. After all, Joe Biden himself has called on citizens to elect pro-choice candidates in the wake of a leaked Supreme Court document announcing the possible annulment of Roe v. valley.

However, in this primary, which will hold its second round on Tuesday, House Democratic staffers prefer Cuellar over Cisneros. And that is, even if Cuellar recently voted against a script intended to record Roe c. Delve into federal law.

How is this possible?

“I support my outgoing representatives from left and right,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a news conference.

Then, referring to the votes needed to pass the bill ensuring access to abortion, she explained: [Cuellar] Not pro-choice, but we don’t need it. »

She could have added, “But we need his seat to maintain our slim House majority in the midterm elections.” »

And it’s not at all certain that a progressive candidate like Jessica Cisneros could win it in November. This dilemma speaks volumes about the situation of Democrats in South Texas in general and Henry Cuellar’s constituency in particular.

Eric Jay, archivist, Associated Press

Jessica Cisneros

This region, which includes part of San Antonio and extends to the Texas border with Mexico, has long been a Democratic stronghold.

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But many of his Hispanic voters, mostly Mexican immigrants, are increasingly drawn to the Republican Party.

Residents of the “more conservative”

“The Mexican-American population, which is predominantly Catholic, is more conservative, at least in Texas,” says Juan Sepulveda, Lone Star State’s presidential campaign manager for Barack Obama in 2008.

“This affects his positions on many topics, including abortion,” added the man, who now holds a management position at Trinity University in San Antonio.

However, Jessica Cisneros did not hesitate to use the leaked Supreme Court document in the Roe v. Wade recalls his disagreement with Henry Cuellar over abortion. Thus she seeks to mobilize the most advanced voters in her constituency.

To that end, she also enjoys the assistance of the United States’ most prominent progressive elected officials, from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Elizabeth Warren to Bernie Sanders, all of whom have campaigned for the past few months.

But the success of this strategy is uncertain, according to Juan Sepulveda.

“The reason is the reality of the voters in this particular ride,” he said. This can help around neighborhoods in southern San Antonio. But the thing is, it’s a much smaller part of the ride. Laredo is the biggest. »

A border town of 265,000 people, 95% of whom are Hispanic, Laredo happens to be Henri Cuellar’s birthplace and stronghold. There he established his law firm in 1981 before being elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1986 and then to the United States House of Representatives in 2004.

“His family is closely associated with politics,” says Juan Sepulveda. This plays into its popularity. I think if Rep. Cuellar wins the second round, he will be reelected. »

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Immigration issue

Henry Cuellar and Jessica Cisneros are facing each other for the second time. In 2020, a second round of voting was also necessary to determine the winner, as the first round of the Democratic primaries did not allow any candidate to receive at least 50% of the vote.

During this second round, Cuellar was victorious by collecting 52% of the vote, against 48% for Cisneros.

In 2022, Henry Cuellar seemed even more vulnerable. This past January, the FBI raided his Laredo home and campaign office as part of a still-mysterious investigation (which was not targeted, according to his attorney).

But abortion is not the only topic that can allow the Democratic representative to stay. Migration is another thing.

The representative specifically opposed lifting a health rule called “Title 42” that would allow for the immediate removal of asylum seekers or immigrants at the border on the pretext of COVID-19 (a Louisiana judge last Friday prevented the Biden administration from ending that measure on Monday, as planned).

In turn, Jessica Cisneros calls for this rule to be abolished. That position is disputed within the constituency she’s running for, as well as in two other South Texas constituencies represented today by Democrats that could turn into the opposition camp next November.

“We saw this in the 2020 presidential election in particular: immigration issues helped push many Mexican Americans from South Texas into the Republican Party, especially men, for a variety of reasons. Juan Sepulveda points out, among other things. In this context, the The position of Representative Cuellar, who is asking the Biden administration for a border management plan before moving forward, is likely to help him on an electoral level.”

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This way the “last” anti-abortion Democrat in the House can retain that title after the midterm elections.

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