Texas Primary Election 2022 – Texas Monthly
A Note on Democratic Participation in South Texas
Jack Herrera, 12:24 p.m.
As the sun rose over South Texas, from Laredo to the Rio Grande to Brownsville, the final counts of the March 1 primary made it clear one thing: Democrats had shown up in numbers many, many. higher than the Republicans.
In the Fifteenth Congressional District, anchored in McAllen and where Republicans have their best chance of overthrowing a soon-to-be vacant seat, Democratic primary voters outnumbered Republicans by about 20,000 to 16,000. Dems and the GOP was even greater in the Thirty-Fourth, anchored in Brownsville, at 29,000 to 10,000, and the Twenty-Eighth, anchored in Laredo, at 24,000 to 13,000. But primary turnout did not often not predict the results of general elections. And in South Texas, there’s another confounding factor: Many Republicans vote in the Democratic primaries.
Because Laredo City and County offices have long been dominated by Democrats, there are often no Republicans running in some races (although some Republican super PACs try to change that). That means many Republicans who want to vote on local political issues in primaries have resorted to voting in Democratic races. “It’s not fair, but that’s how the system works,” said Juan Ramirez, a Laredo business owner who voted in the Democratic primary yesterday.
Yesterday, outside the Guerra Center, a polling place in downtown Laredo, Ramirez told me he’s backed Republicans every year since JFK’s assassination. However, that didn’t stop him from enthusiastically voting for a Democratic congressman in the primary. Although Ramirez lambasted the Biden administration and the policies of the National Democrats, he said he was a longtime staunch supporter of Henry Cuellar.
“He is one of the few democrats who [extends his] sometimes to Republicans,” Ramirez said, explaining that he admires that Cuellar is willing to break with the party leadership and vote with the GOP on some key issues, such as increased oil drilling, aggressive enforcement of borders and anti-abortion policies. He also admires the funding Cuellar was able to bring to Laredo, in part thanks to the congressman’s standing on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
“All the years he’s been in power, he knows how to get money for the city, he knows how to do things, and he does them,” Ramirez said. “With the infrastructure, with the airport, sometimes we have water and sewer issues, and he gets involved.” (Over the past week, much of Laredo has been without running water, and many homes are still under boil water advisories now that service has been restored. Cuellar frequently posted social media updates and said his team distributes bottled water to residents.)
Cuellar has long courted votes from right-wing voters. A self-proclaimed Blue Dog and one of the most conservative in his House caucus, Cuellar represents an increasingly rare breed of Democrat. His unique positions speak to the complexity of politics in South Texas. He built his reputation — and staked his political future — on betting that South Texans want a centrist, conservative Democrat to represent them in Congress. “Some of my Hispanic colleagues have said to me, ‘You have to be careful how you vote,'” Cuellar told me in 2021, explaining how he had been criticized for his conservative positions. “I tell them, ‘I think I know my neighborhood, and I think I know it better [than you do] … I do what I think is right, listening to my parents. ”
Jessica Cisneros, an AOC-aligned immigration attorney, attempts to prove Cuellar wrong. Last night, she and Cuellar both managed to make the runoff for the next primary vote on May 25. Cisneros leads an unabashedly left-wing campaign, supporting Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, as well as a more humane border and immigration. Strategies.