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Elizabeth Warren Endorses Justice Democrats’ Primary Challenge To Long-Time Democratic Incumbent

By  Molly Prince
Elizabeth Warren speaks at Shrine Auditorium during a town hall
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced her official endorsement of Justice Democrats-backed candidate Jessica Cisneros, a Democratic primary challenger to longtime incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX).

“The people of Texas’ 28th District are ready for systematic change and deserve a Democrat that will be on the side of working people; not the side of big money and obstructionist Republicans,” Warren said in a statement on Monday.

“I believe Jessica Cisneros is that fighter. As an immigration lawyer and daughter of small business owners growing up on the border, Jessica knows our diversity is our strength and that when progressives are unapologetic about our values and who we’re in this battle for, we win,” her statement continued. “It’s time Texans had a champion in Congress who does just that. I’m proud to support Jessica.”

The ultra-progressive Justice Democrats PAC credited with the rise of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) revealed in June that Cisneros would be the organization’s first effort to unseat a moderate Democrat in 2020.

Cuellar, who has represented the Lone Star State’s 28th Congressional District since 2005, has long been a target of Justice Democrats for not being progressive enough in a safely blue district, according to NBC News. Specifically, he is backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and wants to defund sanctuary cities. He also received blowback from progressives over his support for a ban on federally funded abortions.

Cisneros is a 26-year-old immigration lawyer who is running on a progressive platform to mandate a $15 per hour federal minimum wage, Medicare-for-All, the Green New Deal, free public college, increasing taxes, and expanding Social Security, reported The Laredo Morning Times. Cisneros is also pro-abortion, anti-Second Amendment, and opposes any construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I’m so proud to receive the endorsement of [Warren]. Thank you for embracing our grassroots movement in South Texas,” Cisneros replied to the Democratic presidential hopeful’s endorsement. “Together, we will fight to fix our corrupt political system and improve the lives of working families across the country. ¡Si, se Puede!”

Warren is the most high-profile Democrat to have voiced support for Cisneros, and the endorsement comes only days before the Massachusetts senator heads down to Texas to participate in the third Democratic National Committee (DNC) primary debate in Houston. Warren will also be holding a town hall in Austin, Texas earlier in the week.

Cuellar, however, defended his political stances in January when rumors began circulating that he was a political target of Justice Democrats.

“I’ve been polling and my district is more moderate, conservative Democrats,” the Texas lawmaker said at the time. “I think an outside group that thinks they know South Texas politics better than I do are going to find [that] out.”

Cuellar won re-election to his sear for an eighth term in 2018 after receiving nearly 85% of the vote. The congressional district also went to Hillary Clinton by more than 20 points during the 2016 presidential election.

Justice Democrats revealed in April that it would be launching its own infrastructure to fundraise for progressive primary candidates after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced that it would not support a challenger to Democratic congressional incumbents.

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