South Texas, with its large Hispanic population, has long been a region Democrats can and have won. However, President Biden is deeply unpopular near the border, and Democrats are coming off a difficult primary between conservative Henry Cuellar and rising progressive star Jessica Cisneros. In addition, polling data suggest that Democrats are losing support from Hispanic voters, who tend to be more concerned about crime – and what’s happening at the border. Additionally, they tend to be more conservative – both socially and economically.
Republicans are targeting the entire South Texas region where three seats currently held by Democrats are very much up for grabs – Texas 15 (Gonzalez), Texas 28 (Cuellar), and Texas 34 (Vela). TX-28 is D+3 and rated a tossup.
As one of eight children born to migrant farm workers in Laredo, Texas, Congressman Cuellar was raised with a passion for education and an unwavering work ethic as he sought to attain his educational goals. As the most degreed member of Congress, he credits his education with informing his public service to Texas.
After earning his associate degree from Laredo Community College Summa Cum Laude, he enrolled in Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Here, while working part-time jobs to accord his graduate degree, the Congressman still managed to graduate Cum Laude, a reflection of his academic commitment. When he returned to Texas, Cuellar completed a master’s degree in international trade at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and earned both a Juris Doctor and a Ph.D. in government from the University of Texas at Austin. Recently, Dr. Cuellar received a Professional Certificate in Budget and Finance from Georgetown University.
In 1981, Congressman Cuellar started practicing law and later became a licensed customs broker in 1983 and taught at Laredo State University (TAMIU) as an adjunct professor of international commercial law from 1984 to 1986. The following year, Cuellar decided to fully dedicate his life to public service and served as a Texas State Representative, Texas Secretary of State, and now as U.S. Congressman.
Rep Cuellar personally opposes abortion and is viewed as the last “pro-life” Democrat in the House. However, after the Dobbs decision, he said there “must be exceptions in the case of rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother.”
Cuellar voted for the recent bi-partisan bill in the house to enhance background checks and provide incentives for states to pass so-called “red-flag” laws. He also supports raising the age to purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21. But he voted against a bill to outright ban assault weapons which died in the Senate.
Cuellar, who has been dubbed “Big Oil’s Favorite Democrat,” often votes with Republicans on energy policy matters. In 2019, Cuellar voted against protecting the Arctic Refuge from oil and gas exploration, against banning offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and against a permanent moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. However, this year he voted with his Democratic colleagues to pass the Anti-Inflation Act – the largest ever investment in climate change.