House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) expressed her support for the last pro-life House Democrat in the face of a challenging Texas primary runoff.
Pelosi shared the affirmation for Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Ceullar during her weekly press conference on Thursday.
“He’s a valued member of our caucus,” Pelosi said of the Texas Democrat. “He is not pro-choice. But we do need him.”
Cuellar garnered just 48% of his district’s primary vote in March, forcing a runoff election against progressive Democrat Jessica Cisneros on May 24.
The Republican Party will also face a runoff between its two top candidates in the district. Cassy Garcia, a former staff member of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, garnered just over 23% of the primary vote. Republican Sandra Whitten was second, with 18% of the district’s GOP vote.
Cuellar faced controversy after the FBI raided his home in January over a potential investigation. He was reportedly not the focus of the investigation and has not faced charges.
In addition, Cuellar has been vocal in his criticisms of the White House regarding the Biden administration’s border policies that have impacted his district.
In September, Cuellar pushed back against criticism of U.S. Border Patrol agents who rode on horseback to force Haitian asylum seekers out of Del Rio, Texas, in July.
Most Democrats continue to support Cuellar despite the concerns. Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) have now all endorsed Cuellar, according to Politico.
Hoyer’s words expressed even stronger support for Cuellar on Wednesday.
“Well, we’re a diverse party. We have diverse opinions,” Hoyer said. “Our platform says that we’re the pro-choice party, and we are the pro-choice party. That does not mean that there’s not room in our party for alternative voices.”
In contrast, New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is promoting Cisneros in the upcoming runoff election for the state’s 28th District.
The congresswoman said “his challenger has a real shot, but needs help.”
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 3, 2022
“Today, we proved just how powerful our movement is and are ready to keep fighting for the future we deserve,” Cisneros said in a statement following the primary. “Together, we will take control back from Big Oil, private prisons, and Wall Street, and put it back where it belongs: with the people.”
Cisneros has repeatedly emphasized her support of “reproductive health care” in her battle against Cuellar.
“Today, Henry Cuellar was the only Democrat to vote against protecting human rights,” she wrote, regarding his vote against a House abortion bill. “His vote against #WHPA is a vote against reproductive health care for all South Texans.”
Last week during an interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cisneros said her opponent might become “the Joe Manchin of the House” over his pro-life stance.
ICYMI: @JCisnerosTX says her Democratic opponent, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), “could become the Joe Manchin of the House” due to anti-abortion stance.
“The last thing we want is to hold onto a slim Democratic majority and then have someone … keep siding with Republicans.” pic.twitter.com/NXzEzG8odS
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) May 7, 2022