McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Two nationally-watched Democratic congressional runoff elections that are separated by just a few votes are both going to recounts, the campaigns said Monday.
Immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros, 29, on Monday announced that she intends to file for a recount in the May 24 Democratic runoff election for Texas’ 28th Congressional District, in which U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar appears to have a 281-vote lead.
The results were canvassed and certified on Monday by the Texas Democratic Party, which declared a 281-vote difference between the Cisneros and Cuellar.
“Our community isn’t done fighting, we are filing for a recount. With just under 0.6 percent of the vote symbolizing such stark differences for the future in South Texas, I owe it to our community to see this through to the end,” Cisneros said in a statement.
Cuellar, who has held the seat for nine terms, on Monday issued a statement acknowledging Cisneros’ right to a recount but said the votes have been canvassed.
“My opponent has every legal right to call for a recount though she has previously stated that she ‘won’t stop fighting until every vote has been counted.’ Well, every vote has been counted,” Cuellar said.
On Friday Cuellar issued a statement claiming to beat Cisneros by 281 votes.
Unofficial results by the Texas Secretary of State’s office indicated Cuellar had won by 177 votes, or 50.2% to 49.8% for Cisneros.
But Cisneros later claimed additional votes in San Antonio, and Cuellar says he garnered more votes in his vast border district, taking him to a 281-vote lead.
“As I said on election night, the margin will hold, and it has not only held but grown. With every single vote counted across the nine counties in the 28th District I have won this election by 281 votes,” Cuellar said. “I would also like to congratulate my opponent, Jessica Cisneros. From the time she was an intern in my office I knew she had potential and a bright future ahead of her. I’d like to congratulate Jessica on a hard-fought race and wish her nothing but the best in the future.”
Cisneros has not conceded.
“This race is too close to call and we’re not taking anything for granted and we’re not backing down from this fight because every single vote should count. Henry Cuellar is the only one calling this race for himself,” Cisneros said in a May 25 video tweet.
“Our movement was never just about one politician — it was about taking on an unjust system that rewards corruption and corporate profits at the expense of the needs of working people,” Cisneros said Monday.
Recounts can be requested if votes are within 10%.
It was widely expected that Cisneros would ask for a recount especially after she sent emails to supporters on May 31 requesting money for a “recount fund.”
Texas’ 15th Congressional District
Ruben Ramirez, an Army combat veteran and former teacher running for the Democratic nomination for Texas’ 15th Congressional District, also said Monday he will be filing for a recount in the May 24 runoff race in which his opponent has a 23-vote lead.
“We owe it to the district and the voters of TX-15 to ensure that every vote is counted accurately,” Ramirez said in a statement. “From the start, our campaign has been about fighting for South Texans, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We will fight to ensure that every vote in this district is counted, and then take that fight for South Texas on to November.”
Small business owner Michelle Vallejo has claimed she beat Ramirez to be the Democratic nominee for the border district that includes McAllen.
“We did it” Vallejo tweeted Thursday.
Only 23 votes separate the two candidates, according to unofficial returns from the Texas Secretary of State’s website. The website shows Vallejo with 6,043 votes of 50.1%, and Ramirez with 6,020 or 49.9%.
Ramirez says he will be filing both the petition for a recount and a recount deposit with the Texas Democratic Party on Tuesday.
Vallejo on Wednesday said she believed final results showed her to be the winner.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to keep fighting for our pueblo, and the chance to fight to become the first woman to ever represent Texas’ 15th Congressional District,” she said. “Together, we are building a movement that is reclaiming the power of Latino voters in South Texas, and one that will make history this November. ¡Vamos Por Quince!”
Monica De La Cruz, the Republican nominee who will run for the 15th District in November, last week criticized Vallejo’s “tiny lead” and said in an email to supporters that “No matter who our opponent is, we will stay laser focused on the issues that matter to our communities: securing the border, stopping inflation, and protecting the American Dream for our families.”
Redistricting by Texas lawmakers changed the district’s boundaries, moving the home of U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who has represented the 15th District, into the 34th District. Gonzalez won the Democratic nomination to run in the 34th District in November.
Texas’ 34th Congressional District
A special election has been called for June 14 to fill the remaining term for Texas’ 34th Congressional District after U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela Jr., stepped down earlier this year.
Gonzalez is not running in the special election and the term is only for a few months.
But Republican Mayra Flores is running in the special election, as well as the November election. And she is banking on winning the special election and being the incumbent to beat in November.
On Monday, the Tea Party Express, the nation’s largest Tea Party political action committee, announced it has endorsed Flores, a former migrant worker who immigrated from Tamaulipas, Mexico, at age 6.
“We are honored to support Mayra Flores for Congress because she is a true American patriot who embodies the family values of God and country near and dear to the hearts of South Texans,” Tea Party Express Co-Founder and Chief Strategist Sal Russo said.
Flores is the wife of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official who will restore border security, Russo said.
“Mayra is a huge advocate for law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to protect Americans from the drug smugglers and criminals who try to sneak across the border illegally every single day. And while Democrats exploit Texans by promoting an open border to score political points with their liberal base, Mayra knows the sovereignty of our nation is dependent on a secure border,” Russo said.
Democrats Rene Coronado and Dan Sanchez and Republicans Juana Cantu-Cabrera and Flores are running in the special general election for Texas’ 34th Congressional District. If no candidate earns a majority of the vote in the general election, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election in August.