Outside Money Washes Into Henry Cuellar's Primary Race to Represent San Antonio and South Texas

The campaign of Rep. Henry Cuellar (left) has received $200,000 in ad support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. - Flickr Creative Commons
Flickr Creative Commons
The campaign of Rep. Henry Cuellar (left) has received $200,000 in ad support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Outside cash is gushing into U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar's primary race as the moderate Democrat tries to beat back a challenge from the left by immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros.

With less than a month until the March 3 primary, more than $2 million in outside spending has flowed into the contest, including "dark money" with untraceable sources, the Texas Tribune reports. That exceeds outside spending on any other U.S. House primary in the state this cycle.

Cuellar, who represents the reliably blue 28th District that includes San Antonio and Laredo, is among the House Dems with the most conservative voting records. Cisneros, a 26-year-old former intern in the congressman's office, argues that his record shows he's out of touch.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week kicked off a $200,000 ad buy to support Cuellar, according a Federal Election Commission filing. That's an uncommon effort by the right-leaning business group, which hasn't significantly opened its wallet to a Dem since 2014, the Tribune reports.

Meanwhile, Cisneros has benefitted from $1.2 million in ad spending from a new super PAC called Texas Forward, including spots contrasting the policy differences between the two Democrats.

What's more, Cisneros has drawn endorsements from presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren plus groups including Justice Democrats, the progressive outfit that played a key role in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's election.

In the fourth quarter, Cisneros outraised Cuellar for the first time, $517,000 to $431,000, the Tribune reports, citing federal records. But Cuellar still has a bigger war chest — $2.9 million, compared to Cisneros' $615,000.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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