Skip to main content

Jessica Cisneros

Justice Democrats, an advocacy group that helped elect Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY, 14th) unseat 10-term incumbent Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY, 14th), is now endorsing a challenger to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX, 28th). In its first endorsement for the 2020 House races, Justice Democrats are backing Jessica Cisneros, an immigration and human rights attorney, in the democratic primary in Texas’ 28th Congressional District. In her launch video, Cisneros states, “Our congressman claims to be a Democrat, but he’s voted with [President Donald] Trump nearly 70% of the time. He’s Trump’s favorite Democrat.”

The group has cited Cuellar’s A rating from the NRA, votes to ban federal funds for abortion, and chairmanship of the Blue Dog Coalition as reasons for a challenge. Cisneros supports progressive policies including Medicare-for-all, the Green New Deal, and a $15 minimum wage. “She represents the voices we so desperately need in Congress right now — millennial, working-class, Latina, first-generation immigrant, and dedicating her life to giving back to her community,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats. The group announced in January that Rep. Cuellar was their top target for the 2020 election. His campaign has not yet responded to requests for comment on the endorsement.

In the 2018 House races, Justice Democrats endorsed 26 candidates who won their respective primary elections, seven of which won in the general election, including Reps. Raúl Grijalva, Ro Khanna, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and AOC. The group’s success with candidates like Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is notable as it is becoming increasingly difficult to run a primary campaign against an incumbent member of Congress.

Earlier this year, the DCCC announced a new policy of not working with or recommending vendors who work for primary challengers. Progressive party members have termed the rule as the DCCC “blacklist” and note that the policy disproportionately affects women and minority candidates and consultants.

Dominique Pandy

Research Analyst, Congress