We still don't know who won the two progressive vs reactionary south Texas races-- TX-28 between reformist challenger Jessica Cisneros and corrupt Blue Dog Henry Cuellar and the open TX-15 contest between progressive Michelle Vallejo and centrist Ruben Ramirez. Henry Cuellar leads with 175 votes in the TX-28 race and Vallejo leads with 23 votes (according to the NY Times, but 27 votes according updated local tallies) in the TX-15 race. The big-spending sleaze bag AIPAC and DMFI SuperPACs-- laundering Republican money into Democratic primaries against progressives-- were active in both races, having spent over $3,000,000 against Cisneros and about half a million dollars against Vallejo.
Progressive members of Congress have a different beef-- particularly in the case of TX-28. And that is the role House leadership played in propping up Cuellar, the most reactionary Democrat in Congress, both a total NRA supporter-- the only Democrat in Congress with an "A" rating from the gun lobby-- and the last anti-Choice Democrat in the House. Reporting for The Guardian last week, Joan Greve wrote that "Progressives complain that House leaders’ intervention in primaries like Cuellar’s is making it harder for their candidates to succeed and they worry about the repercussions of the party embracing centrist candidates with controversial stances on issues like abortion rights and gun control... Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vented her frustration at House leaders for aiding Cuellar, attacking her colleague’s policy positions and his potential involvement in an FBI investigation. (Cuellar’s home and campaign office were raided in January, but the congressman has denied wrongdoing, and his attorney claimed he was not the target of an investigation.) 'On the day of a mass shooting and weeks after news of Roe, Democratic party leadership rallied for a pro-NRA, anti-choice incumbent under investigation in a close primary. Robocalls, fundraisers, all of it,' Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter. 'Accountability isn’t partisan. This was an utter failure of leadership.'"
Progressives see a pattern in how party leaders and center-left groups are targeting their candidates in primaries. In Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district, super Pacs spent millions trying to prevent the nomination of state representative Summer Lee, although the progressive lawmaker ultimately won her primary. Democratic congressman Kurt Schrader, who had attracted criticism for blocking key parts of Joe Biden’s agenda, still won the president’s endorsement and secured the backing of House Democrats’ campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Schrader officially lost his primary to progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner on Friday.
Progressives argue that Cisneros would have easily cruised to victory as well if the Democratic establishment, particularly House leaders, had not invested so heavily to assist Cuellar. In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election, House speaker Nancy Pelosi recorded a robocall for Cuellar, while majority whip Jim Clyburn traveled to Texas to campaign alongside his colleague. Clyburn’s trip to campaign for Cuellar, who does not support abortion rights, came two days after the supreme court’s draft opinion overturning Roe v Wade was leaked to the public.
“With a margin this small, it’s clear that a pro-choice, anti-NRA Democrat could have easily won if it wasn’t for the full-throated support of Speaker Pelosi and the party establishment in Washington for anti-choice, pro-NRA Henry Cuellar,” said Waleed Shahid, communications director for the progressive group Justice Democrats. “Why is all of Democratic party leadership more heavily focused on defeating an anti-NRA, pro-choice Democrat than defeating Republicans in the midterms?”
...Ezra Oliff-Lieberman, the electoral organizer in Texas-28 for the climate group Sunrise Movement, said Cisneros would be the stronger candidate in the general election because of her ability to energize and mobilize young voters. Since Sunrise endorsed Cisneros last year, the group has made more than 700,000 calls to support her campaign.
“We were knocking doors in 100-degree Texas heat because we are excited about and inspired by the vision that Jessica is fighting for that says we don’t have to live in fear of gun violence, that we can have freedom to make decisions about our own bodies,” Oliff-Lieberman said.
Looking ahead to the general election, Oliff-Lieberman added, “It’s going to be hard, and we need a grassroots base to win. And I think Democratic leadership is squandering any hope of us winning by alienating young people.”
Oliff-Lieberman noted that young voters helped elect Biden and secure the party’s majorities in Congress, and he accused House Democratic leaders of ignoring the needs of a key constituency.
“It’s so abundantly clear what young people want and how Democratic leadership is willing to do the exact opposite,” he said. “I feel really angry that we have put so much into fighting for a better world and to try to put a stop to so many of the crises that we’re facing. And it feels like the people who are standing in the way of that are people who supposedly are on our side.”
Oliff-Lieberman and Cisernos’s other supporters have said they will fight to get every vote counted in Texas-28, expressing hope that Cuellar can still be defeated. But regardless of the outcome in Texas, progressives are encouraged by the victories they have already seen in primaries this year with candidates like Lee and McLeod-Skinner. They are ready to keep up the fight, even if Democratic leaders attempt to stand in their way.
“If anything, I think this primary season so far is just emboldening our movement to build more power, to keep going to get stronger,” Oliff-Lieberman said. “And we know that the establishment is scared.”
The Texas Tribune explained what's next: "A timeline is now playing out at the county level where outstanding ballots can still be counted. Mail ballots that were postmarked by 7 p.m. Tuesday could still be counted if they were received by 5 p.m. Wednesday. The deadline for military and overseas ballots is Tuesday, May 31, a day later than usual due to Memorial Day. And then counties have until Thursday to finalize their results and report them to the state. Tuesday is also the deadline for voters to 'cure' mail ballots that were rejected. Cisneros' campaign is urging mail voters to check online to make sure their ballot was accepted, if not, to call the campaign's "voter protection hotline" to see if they can fix it. Cisneros said the hotline 'has been ringing nonstop all day since yesterday when we put out that call.' In the 15th District, both Vallejo and Ramirez are also urging mail voters to ensure their ballot was accepted before the Tuesday deadline to cure rejected ballots. A candidate can request a recount if their margin is less than 10% of the votes received by their opponent. Both Cisneros and Ramirez are well within that, though candidates typically wait until all the outstanding ballots are counted before deciding whether to pursue a recount."
Last week Kate Aronoff asked "How far does an incumbent Democrat have to go to lose the endorsement of their party’s leadership? That’s the question everyone should be asking as Henry Cuellar clings to his razor-thin margin in the Democratic primary runoff election in South Texas. Some things probably fly below the radar, like being the House’s third-largest recipient of fossil fuel funding or obstructing his own party’s legislative agenda. Does the FBI raiding a candidate’s home as part of a probe into shady congressional ties to an autocratic petrostate cross the threshold into insupportability? It does not. If you thought being the House’s only anti-abortion Democrat with a firm stance against making Roe v. Wade the law of the land-- as the Supreme Court looks poised to strike it down-- would be a bridge too far, you would also be wrong. What about allies of said candidate apparently spreading fake news? Wrong again. Having an A rating from the NRA amid a slew of mass shootings, including the slaughter of at least 19 fourth graders at an elementary school not far from his district on the actual day of the election? Incredibly, even that’s not enough. Whether these politicians actually care about the causes they claim to care about is unknowable, and it isn’t the point. They might care, they might not; no amount of asking them to comment on this question is going to clear it up. What’s clear is that the consequences of Democratic timidity won’t actually affect the people who make sure Washington works this way. Climate action is 'for the children,' Pelosi said earlier this month as India and Pakistan entered a third month of rolling 100-plus-degree temperatures. The Texas politicians who created the outdated, gas-powered grid that failed in 2021 aren’t the ones who suffered and died in the blackouts or will suffer in subsequent ones. Even if Cuellar ends up losing his seat as part of an expected blowout for Democrats this November, lame-duck opposition is a relatively comfy place to be. House Republicans refusing to recognize that a Democrat could win the White House gives them another chance to juice the #Resistance brand. Keeping a tight ship seems to be the only thing that matters, even if that ship is sinking."
Warning: As bad as Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn are, Pelosi's hand-picked successor, Wall Street darling Hakeem Jeffries, is far worse, and far more opposed to progressive initiatives and progressive candidates. In the case of directing AIPAC money against progressives, his-- along with slimy operative Mark Mellman-- is the hand behind the curtain.